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Saturday, March 7 • 2:25pm - 3:25pm
Structured Discussion: The different needs of women and girls in the justice system: How can we address gender differences in the needs for protection within the institution for female inmates.

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The incarceration of women and girls has shifted in our society. According to the CDCR (2014), Female incarceration rates have increased dramatically in the last 10 years. Working in the county jail and juvenile hall systems within California for the past few months has exposed me to the different needs that men and women demonstrate while incarcerated. For many women, being locked up provides safety and protection from the sexual and physical violence they have experienced throughout their lives (Bradley & Davino, 2002). The safety that is felt by some women while incarcerated is very different than the expressed experience for men regarding safety. This is not to minimize the trauma and violence experienced by men in these settings, however through my early experience in incarceration, I have noticed different needs and ways of being protected and provided safety for women and girls compared to men and boys. The culture of a female correctional unit feels very different than that of a male correctional unit, which represents nothing novel or groundbreaking. Carol Gilligan’s (1982) characterization of male and female differences is very evident in the environment of incarceration. The male standard of treatment found within the walls of juvenile halls, jails and prisons, serve to disregard the gender-specific needs for women if the aim is for rehabilitation. Even the ways in which genders are tried in court is conflicted: “A distinction was drawn between male’s emphasis on autonomy and an ethics of right and justice in resolving a case and women’s subscribing to an ethics of care with an emphasis on the social impact of a decision.” (Von Wormer, 2010). Furthermore, restorative justice from the perspective of Barton (2001) recognizes multiple ways of enacting justice for the offender and the victim, however the victimization of women in the male-dominant correctional environments hinders that corrective process.


Saturday March 7, 2015 2:25pm - 3:25pm
Gold Rush A