Women in the Criminal Justice System

Women in the Criminal Justice System present with different needs from men in the Criminal Justice System. To better understand the approach to take with women, it is important to understand their circumstances, how gender impacts their needs and the complex interaction of their needs.

Women in the CJS have a different experience within the Criminal Justice System as well as presenting different needs from men in the Criminal Justice System.

The Corston report clearly highlights the experiences of women in the Criminal Justice System.

Women in the CJS experience vulnerabilities over three different levels.

Domestic circumstances and problems such as domestic violence, child-care issues, being a single-parent;
  • More than a third of women on community orders have been victims of domestic violence.
  • 18000 children a year are impacted by the imprisonment of their mother.
  • The average distance adult women in prison are held from their home is 55 miles.
Personal circumstances such as mental illness, low self-esteem, eating disorders, substance misuse;
  • In 2009, more than one in three female prisoners self-harmed compared with fewer than one in ten male prisoners.
  • Almost a third of women on community orders have misused drugs and nearly a quarter have misused alcohol.
  • Women in custody are fives times more likely to have a mental health need than women in the general population.
Socio-economic factors such as poverty, isolation and unemployment;
  • 28 per cent of women on community orders have needs in relation to finance.
  • 29 per cent of women in the CJS have education and training needs.
  • 40% of women in prison left school before the age of 16 years.

Read here for further statistics on women in the CJS