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Women Offender Programs and Issues

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Long-Term Federally Sentenced Women: Literature Review

Introduction

In 1991, the Survey of Federally Sentenced Women reported that there were 46 women in the population serving life sentences, 16 others were serving ten years or more, making a total of 62 women serving long-term sentences. This number has increased in the past three years. A census conducted July 13, 1994 reported that 51 women were serving life sentences, 19 others serving sentences of ten years or more, making a total of 70 women serving long-term sentences; of these, 12 are Native, 6 are Black , 2 Asian and 1 other. [ See Appendix 2 for more details.] Federally Sentenced Women (FSW) serving long terms (10 years or more) and/or life sentences have been recognized as a unique group with needs and concerns that must be acknowledged when developing programs for the new facilities. It is paramount that the needs of this group be clearly articulated, as many needs will undoubtedly overlap with those of all women being housed in these facilities. The identification of such will aid in the development of program strategies and in areas such as staff training.

The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to: summarize the findings of the literature that are pertinent to women serving long sentences; link these findings to the overall philosophy of Creating Choices; isolate the needs that, according to the literature, are specifically significant to this group; assess the programs outlined in the Correctional Program Strategy for Federally Sentenced Women, and examine their weaknesses and strengths as they pertain to women serving long-terms; and, review the four stages recommended by the Task Force on Long-Term Offenders (The Perron Report) and assess their applicability to the experiences of women.