*Note* This scheduling program was not designed by folks who do a lot with APA Style and unfortunately it defaults to listing authors in alphabetical order. We cannot fix this for this online schedule, but the author orders are posted in the order submitted in the printed program available via pdf here.
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Friday, March 6 • 10:45am - 12:00pm
Incarcerated Women’s Pathways to and Experiences within the Criminal Justice System

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This invited symposium presents three mixed-method empirical studies examining incarcerated women’s experiences within the criminal justice system. We will explore women’s pathways to incarceration, mental health outcomes associated with a trauma-informed, gender-specific curriculum for women serving life sentences, and feminist principles in mentoring relationships among community and incarcerated women. 

Presentation I.  Exploring Women’s Pathways to the Criminal Justice System 

Shannon Lynch, Ph.D., Idaho State University,  Dana DeHart, PhD, University of South Carolina, Joanne Belknap, Ph.D., Chris DeCou, BS, Idaho State University 

In response to increasing rates of incarceration of women, researchers have studied gender differences in pathways to the justice system. In particular, women and girls report more experiences of intimate interpersonal violence and greater mental health difficulties than male offenders. Women are also more likely to describe use of substances associated with their offenses. As part of a mixed-methods, multisite study of women’s pathways to jail, a subset (N=115) of participants from a sample of 491 randomly selected women in jails in four regions of the U.S. completed extensive life history calendar interviews.  Our multi-disciplinary research team reviewed these in-depth interviews and created case summaries highlighting onset and extent of interpersonal violence and adversity, types of perpetrator(s), onset and extent of substance use, path into criminal offending, and onset and extent of mental health concerns. We will use these profile summaries to explore intersections of trauma, mental health and substance use in the women’s narratives, to elucidate potential targets for prevention and intervention, and to identify common paths to the justice system. These findings have the potential to inform the development and implementation of prevention efforts with at-risk community populations and gender responsive programming within the corrections system. 

Presentation II.  “I’m Learning How to Live”: Short term and Follow-up Outcomes of a New Intervention with Incarcerated Women with Life Sentences

Gina Fedock, MSW, Doctoral Candidate 

Michigan State University
Incarcerated women with life sentences are a small, but growing sub-population of adults in prison. Strikingly, women with life sentences are often excluded from treatment programming within prisons, given that such programming is reserved for women with shorter sentences or those preparing for re-entry into the community. They have not even been considered a target population for intervention, as they are rarely, if ever, included in samples for new intervention development and testing. This study examines mental health outcomes for a pilot of a new trauma-informed and gender-specific intervention entitled Beyond Violence with a sample of 26 incarcerated women with life sentences in a state prison. Surveys including measures of depression, anxiety, PTSD, serious mental illness, and forms of anger expression were administered at pre-intervention, post-intervention, and three months following completion. Focus groups occurred with the groups at post-intervention, and individual semi-structured interviews were conducted at the follow-up time point. Results will be shared in regards to the changes in mental health and anger measures over time, as well as the themes of the focus groups and interviews. Lastly, a discussion of future practice and research implications for work focused on incarcerated women with life sentences will be included.

 Presentation III. Growth-fostering Relationships and Transforming Self-perceptions: Feminist Principles in the Mentoring of Women in Prison and Beyond


Dawn M. Salgado, PhD

Pacific University

 Previous research examining women’s services and programming while incarcerated have generally been found to be underfunded, inadequate, or inconsistent with empirically-based needs of the population. As new interventions rely on incorporating strength-based, gender-responsive, and restorative justice approaches into their programmatic structure and theory, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting interventions for incarcerated women can be effective at increasing health and well-being, creating opportunities for successful reintegration, and interrupting the cycle of re-incarceration. The current mixed method study examines experiences of community mentors and incarcerated women (N = 29) as they discuss relational and programmatic features associated with their involvement. Results will highlight feminist-based practices and principles typified in these relationships focusing on connection and similarities, empathy and acceptance, and empowerment and effectiveness. In addition, the presentation will discuss incarcerated women’s transformative experiences and the ability of the program to provide a seamless set of services, beginning in prison and extending after release.  This information is directly applicable to the development and implementation of cost-effective strategies to holistically serve incarcerated women. 

Friday March 6, 2015 10:45am - 12:00pm PST
Gold Rush B