In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Women, Girls, and Reentry

  • Introduction
  • Gender and Juvenile Reentry
  • Motherhood and Reentry
  • Gender and Desistance
  • Gender and Health
  • Gender and Substance Use
  • Gender and Mental Health
  • Gender, Assessment, and Reentry Preparation
  • Gender and Intervention in Prison Settings
  • Gender and Supervision
  • Gender, Employment, and Education
  • Gender and Community
  • Gender and Social Factors

Criminology Women, Girls, and Reentry
Kayla Marie Hoskins
  • LAST REVIEWED: 24 May 2018
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 May 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0247


In the past, criminal justice approaches were generally designed to respond to male crime because the court-involved population was largely male. Since the 1980s, the number of women and girls in the criminal justice system has dramatically risen. This rise translates into large numbers of females reentering communities following incarceration. In response, practitioners and researchers have developed, implemented, and evaluated programs specifically for females. We have learned that females who engage in criminal behavior have different risks and needs than their male counterparts. Research shows that scholars and practitioners should focus on developing and implementing gender-responsive reentry approaches to address female crime. This annotated bibliography presents recent gender-specific literature to serve as a tool for academics, students, policymakers, and practitioners to investigate the complex differences between males and females in the juvenile and criminal justice systems and gender-responsive reentry strategies for formerly incarcerated females.

Gender and Juvenile Reentry

Youth in out-of-home correctional placement, such as group homes and detention centers, face unique challenges when reentering their communities. The juvenile justice system is committed to rehabilitating boys and girls. However, it has been designed to respond to male delinquency. Over time, practitioners and scholars have collaborated to document girls’ unique pathways to crime as well as their unique risks and needs. In this section, the reader will discover literature indicating that these gender-specific factors require gender-responsive programming and policy to effectively address the needs of females. Fields and Abrams 2010 presents evidence of the gender-specific reentry needs of court-involved girls in multiple domains. Similarly, Toldson, et al. 2010 inquires into the gendered educational strengths and vulnerabilities of adjudicated adolescents, noting racial differences among girls. This evidence suggests that gender-responsive reentry services for youth should also be culturally informed. Stevens, et al. 2011 explores policy-related explanations for the dramatic increase in court-involved girls. Stein, et al. 2015 supports this notion, finding racial differences in incarcerated girls’ pathways and risks. In summary, the evidence displays the merit of continued gender-specific reentry research for juveniles.

  • Fields, D., and L. S. Abrams. 2010. Gender differences in the perceived needs and barriers of youth offenders preparing for community reentry. Child & Youth Care Forum 39.4: 253–269.

    DOI: 10.1007/s10566-010-9102-x

    This article identifies important domains for gender-specific intervention development to facilitate positive reentry outcomes of incarcerated adolescents. Fields and Abrams examined risk factors (e.g., reoffending, perceived reentry needs, anticipated barriers to reentry) through bivariate analysis and descriptive statistics and observed significant gender differences. Girls more often reported indicators of transiency and housing concerns, as well as intentions to pursue higher education and mental health services upon reentry. Outcomes highlight the need for gender-responsive reentry services for youth.

  • Stein, L. A. R., M. Clair, J. S. Rossi, R. A. Martin, M. K. Cancilliere, and J. G. Clarke. 2015. Gender, ethnicity and race in incarcerated and detained youth: Services and policy implications for girls. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 38.1: 65–73.

    DOI: 10.1037/prj0000089

    Using the Risk-Needs-Responsivity model to examine racial or ethnic differences or both of incarcerated girls, these researchers found girls received worse grades, displayed more pathology, had more familial problems, were younger at time of lockup, and were more likely to report being homosexual or bisexual than boys. Caucasian girls started drugs at younger ages, displayed more symptoms of conduct disorder and pathology, and reported more parental abuse than minority girls. The authors call for age- and race-sensitive reentry planning for girls.

  • Stevens, T., M. Morash, and M. Chesney-Lind. 2011. Are girls getting tougher, or are we tougher on girls? Probability of arrest and juvenile court oversight in 1980 and 2000. Justice Quarterly 28.5: 719–744.

    DOI: 10.1080/07418825.2010.532146

    This study compared policy changes to explore a relationship between policy harshness and the rising of girls’ assault convictions. The probability of conviction and institutional placement was analyzed with survey data collected from 12,686 youths in 1979 and 8,984 youths in 1997. Results show that female adolescents and black male adolescents were significantly more likely to become court-involved. These findings suggest that society has become more concerned with responding to female and black youth violence. The authors recommend further research to identify specific policies exacerbating this gender- and race-specific increase.

  • Toldson, I. A., K. M. Woodson, R. Braithwaite, R. C. Holliday, and M. De La Rosa. 2010. Academic potential among African American adolescents in juvenile detention centers: Implications for reentry to school. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation 49.8: 551–570.

    DOI: 10.1080/10509674.2010.519666

    Multivariate analysis is used to compare characteristics of male and female adjudicated adolescents to explore demographic differences of school reentry outcomes. Black females reported the most motivation for school continuation and career goals; however, risk of not attaining these goals was connected to childhood trauma (e.g., emotional, physical, or sexual abuse) and depressive symptoms (e.g., sadness, despondence). This article is well suited for policymakers interested in improving black adjudicated girls’ mental health and academic outcomes.

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