Vulnerable Women: Meeting the needs of female offenders within a gender-specific service

Maggie Leese

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    More than a decade ago, the Corston Report (2007) suggested that custody should only be used for those women who have committed serious and/or violent crimes; striking a balance between ‘retributive justice’ and the inherent vulnerabilities including past abuse and mental illness, prevalent amongst this group. Consequently, there has been a move to promote alternatives to custody for women, recognising that they have different needs to their male counterparts. Despite this acknowledgement, female incarceration rates remain high, with women more likely than men to receive a custodial sentence for their first offence. The increasing numbers of women given a custodial sentence can be linked to harsher sentencing and a reduction in community disposals, with 84 per cent of women in prison serving custodial sentences for non-violent offences. Almost half of women in prison have been convicted of theft but despite a 4 per cent reduction in convictions for theft between 2009–2013, the number of women given a custodial sentence increased by 17%.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPrison Service Journal
    Issue number17
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


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