The Rise in Women’s Incarceration and the Gender Informed Practice Assessment
The United States has 5% of the world’s women, and 33% of its incarcerated women. Women’s imprisonment rose 700% nationally between 1980 and 2014, and women of color are disproportionately arrested and incarcerated. In response to this dramatic increase, the National Institute of Corrections and the National Resource Center on Justice-Involved Women worked to develop effective practices for women’s prisons through a Gender Informed Practice Assessment tool, known as GIPA.
Research shows that a larger proportion of justice-involved women have experienced sexual abuse and other forms of victimization when compared to justice-involved men. They are more likely to have experienced poverty and underemployment, and to come from neighborhoods that are entrenched in poverty and lack viable systems of social support. About 73% of women in NY prisons have children, and most provided for the children’s daily care before their arrests. For all of these reasons, women’s needs differ from those of men.
Gender-responsive approaches intentionally use research and knowledge on women to guide policy and practice at all levels of service delivery. They are defined by five “CORE Practice Areas”, which advise that every program, service and intervention should be 1) Relationship-based; 2) Strengths-based; 3) Trauma-informed; 4) Culturally Responsive; and 5) Holistic. The GIPA is a multi-day process that involves: a) review of agency/facility reports, polices and related materials; b) interviews and focus groups with stakeholders, including administrators, supervisors, custody and non-custody staff, contractors, volunteers, and women residents; c) observations of programs, services, and facility operations, and d) review of files of the women in custody.
The process of implementing the GIPA is extensive and is meant to be transformative. Departments of Corrections that elect to participate in the process commit to engaging in a challenging and deeply rewarding process of self-reflection and building gender-responsive, evidence-based, and trauma-informed policies and practices for and with justice-involved women and staff. This approach is meant to reach every aspect of life in the facility and every interaction between staff and women in custody. The Correctional Association looks forward to the impact of this rigorous process on the practices of New York’s prisons as the work of implementing the GIPA unfolds, and intends to monitor DOCCS’ progress and level of commitment to actualizing the GIPA tool as part of our core mission.
Read more in the CA’s most recent newsletter.
Correctional Association of New York releases “Solitary at Southport: A 2017 Report Based Upon the Correctional Assn.’s Visits, Data Analysis, & First-Hand Accounts of the Torture of Solitary Confinement from One of New York’s Supermax Prisons”
New York, NY (December 13, 2017): Today The Correctional Assn. of NY (CA), founded in 1844 and one of the oldest prison watchdog organizations in the country, released a 92-page report providing graphic first-hand depictions of physical, mental, and emotional abuse as a result of days, weeks, and often years of being caged in solitary confinement for 23 to 24 hours a day.Read More
When Cassidy Green learned that she was pregnant, she and her husband didn’t discuss cribs, co-sleeping, or even diapers. Instead, they worried about more basic and immediate challenges, like whether Green would be able to spend more than a few days with her baby. Green was in prison, 9 years into a 15-year prison sentence [...]Read More
Under unique statutory authority granted to the CA in 1846, WIPP monitors conditions in women’s prisons in New York, a role played by no other group in the country. WIPP coordinates the Coalition for Women Prisoners, a statewide alliance of more than 1,800 people, and carries out advocacy campaigns to reform harmful criminal justice policies. [...]Read More
Watch the Correctional Association’s video about the barbaric – and illegal – shackling of incarcerated women during childbirth. In 2009 New York enacted a statute restricting the use of shackles on women during childbirth. The law bans outright the use of restraints on women throughout labor, delivery and recovery “after giving birth,” which is meant [...]Read More