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Title: Women in Crisis: An Analysis of the Benefits of Gender-Responsive and Trauma-Responsive Treatment Models for Women in the Criminal Justice System
Authors: Davis, Audrey
Advisors: Staszak, Sarah
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2020
Abstract: Over the past forty years, there has been an astronomical increase in women’s mass incarceration. The “gender-neutral” reforms of the past decade have thus far failed to reverse this trend because they fail to address the underlying causality of women’s engagement in criminalized activity. This paper is rooted in the theories that trauma in the form of experienced sexual violence leads to the development of mental health disorders, which initiate or exacerbate women’s engagement in criminalized activities. Therefore, according to this principle, effective rehabilitation requires treating the trauma-based mental health disorders in this population with best practice guidelines of gender-responsive and trauma-responsive care. This paper investigates the following question: Does providing gender-responsive and trauma-responsive treatment to women in the criminal justice system generate tangible benefits to the women, their families, their communities, and the criminal justice system as a whole? To answer this question, I examine four programs within correctional facilities and alternatives to incarceration that provide this treatment — Women Overcoming Recidivism Through Hard Work (WORTH), Women’s Integrated Treatment (WIT), JusticeHome, and the Women’s Therapeutic Court (WTC) — to provide a comprehensive analysis of the benefits associated with this treatment. Based on literature reviews, personal interviews, and quantitative analyses, I argue the following: 1) women experience improved quality of life, as evidenced by enhanced physical health and functional outcomes; 2) the women’s children indirectly experience improve quality of life, measurable through mental health, physical health, and functional outcomes; 3) women’s rates of recidivism decrease; and 4) long-term costs to the criminal justice system decrease due to avoided recidivism and crime. In summary, this holistic analysis finds that gender-responsive and trauma-responsive treatment supplies numerous, tangible benefits for the women, their children, and the criminal justice system. I conclude by encouraging correctional facilities and alternatives to incarceration to adopt this treatment. In addition, my policy prescriptions include allocating funding for the implementation of this treatment, mandating trauma-responsive training for employees of the criminal justice system, and initiating and supporting any criminal justice reform policies specific to women.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, 1929-2020

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