Women, offending and gender sensitive practice

Transitioning behind bars

Women, offending and gender sensitive practice

One of my favourite articles the Probation Journal has published over recent years is Delving in to the Probation Journal: Portrayals of women Probation Officers and Women Offenders by Jill Annison (2009). In this article Annison, as the title describes, delves in to the archived publications of the Probation Journal dating back to its first publication in 1929 (available at http://journals.sagepub.com/loi/prb).

While it reminds me how far we have travelled both in our understanding of women offenders and the fair and equal treatment of women probation staff, it also has a sobering effect of reminding me to question what good practice for women offenders is and the importance of revisiting these debates to prevent the risk of such knowledge being overlooked.

Annison’s historical look at whether male or female staff are best placed to work with women is a good example of such debates. The article was published in our 2009 special edition entitled Women and the Criminal Justice system: Policy and practice (http://journals.sagepub.com/toc/prbb/56/4). This issue covered a range of topics including “what works” for women offenders; women and community sentences; girls and violence, and women and desistance.

An article I constantly refer back for my own practice when working with women is the our inaugural best paper prize article for 2009 by Susan Bachelor Prove me the Bam!: Victimisation and agency in the lives of young women who commit violent offence.

Drawing on the voices of young women the article eloquently argues how women’s own use of violence and aggression links back to their own experiences of family violence and neglect. Over the years, this article has helped me hold in mind the traumatic experiences that many of my cases have experienced and in turn to help myself and the service user understand the function of their violence and aggression that is being acted out in the present time.

More recently, in the December 2017 edition Masson and Österman consider the findings from a unique qualitative study on female offenders and restorative justice in Working with female offenders in restorative justice frameworks: Effective and ethical practice. Considering the gender responsiveness of services Masson and Österman’s article captures is one of the many ways women feature within the Probation Journal.

The September 2017 edition included summaries of three recent key reports, the experiences of BAME women in criminal justice system; the Corston report 10 years on; and deaths of women in custody; all were summarised by women probation staff.

Our book reviews section routinely reviews critical texts and the March 2018 edition includes a review by Emma Wincup of Gemma Birkett’s book: Media, Politics and Penal Reform: Influencing Women’s Imprisonment 

Finally, looking forward we are continuing the conversation in our forthcoming June 2018 edition with an article by Omar Khan Introducing a gender sensitive approach to pretrial assessment and probation: Evaluation of an innovation in Kenya. This pioneering work provides an international perspective of the challenges faced when adapting practice provision to become gender sensitive.  This article will be available on-line in the coming months. Articles published on-line ahead of the hard copy can be accessed at http://journals.sagepub.com/toc/prbb/0/0

Emma Cluley
Managing Editor, Probation Journal
Twitter: @ProbationJnl




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