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Women Offender Programs and Issues

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Parenting Roles And Experiences Of Abuse In Women Offenders: Review Of The Offender Intake Assessments

Data Sources

Offender Intake Assessment is an evaluation tool applied to every offender at the time of his/her admission to federal custody. It consists of two main components: Criminal Risk Assessment and Case Needs Identification and Analysis. The Case Needs component consists of seven need domains: employment, marital/family, associates/social interaction, substance abuse, community functioning, personal/emotional orientation and attitude (Motiuk, 1997). Each domain is characterized by certain principal components which consist of a number of indicators. OIA also has Domain Comments sections for each need domain, which consist of additional information about the offender with regard to the specific domain (employment, marital/family, etc.). All of the information in the OIA is entered by the primary worker, based on the interview with the offender as well as other sources.

The OIA is an assessment instrument that is applied to both male and female offenders, and therefore may not capture specific information relevant to the female population. As a result, the "Federally Sentenced Women Facilities Offender Intake Assessment Content Guidelines" (1996) were developed in order to obtain additional information of particular relevance to women that are to be recorded in the Domain Comments. It is these Domain Comments that represented the source of information for this study. Of particular relevance were those aspects that referred to women's caregiving roles and experiences of abuse. With respect to the issue of abuse, the aforementioned guidelines provided instructions to record "any information regarding the offender being the victim of sexual abuse " (p.15) or "experiences of violence or abuse that a woman can recall" (p.17). It also provided guidelines for recording information on women's mother-role, such as who is caring for her children during incarceration, whether she has contact with them, etc. (p.16). It is important to mention that there has not been any formal verification to date by CSC on the consistency and the way in which these guidelines are being applied in the field, which may affect the extent to which this information is recorded in particular OIAs' Domain Comments.