First Advisor

Randy Blazak

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Sociology and University Honors




Women prisoners -- Rehabilitation, Prisoners -- Services for -- Sex differences, Recidivism -- Prevention, Female offenders -- Rehabilitation




In the last 30 years, the number of women in the criminal justice system has risen significantly, yet the criminal justice system still bases much of its policy on empirical research conducted on a majority male subjects. Risk and need assessments, generally used to categorize inmates into varying risk levels to lower recidivism, have been faulted by many feminist scholars for having little pertinence for women. Their lack of gender sensitive factors has left many scholars questioning their validity. Available correctional programs are based on the knowledge collected by those who are supportive of these "gender neutral" assessments. Because of this, female offenders are not receiving rehabilitation that is relevant to the context of their lives. This paper examines the context of female offenders using theoretical frameworks on criminality and gender, the current understanding of gender specific needs, and the application of Risk and need assessments, specifically the LSI-R (Levels of Service Inventory-Revised). Although there is some overlap between the factors that predict recidivism of men and women, the lack of data specifically to women has resulted in a shortfall of resources for women. This paper concludes with suggestions for further research into the risk levels and assessments and changing correctional policy in order to distribute resources to better serve the needs of women.


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