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Women Offender Programs and Issues

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Federally Sentenced Women Maximum Security Interview Project: "Not Letting the Time Do You"

4 IDENTIFIED NEED AREAS

4.1 Factors Women Identified as Having Led to Their Imprisonment
4.2 Women Identifying Their Own Needs
4.3 CNIA Identified Need Areas (Domains)
4.4 Women's Perceptions of CNIA-Identified Need Areas

CSC's criminogenic need assessment protocol, the Case Needs Identification and Analysis (CNIA), delineates seven domains that are considered associated with criminal recidivism. Briefly, criminogenic needs are dynamic risk factors that are associated with reductions in recidivism when targeted with appropriate programming. The seven CNIA domains are: employment, marital/family, associates/social interactions, substance abuse, community functioning, attitudes, and personal/emotional orientation. Each of these domains consists of principal component(s), sub-components and indicators. The CNIA is part of the OIA and forms a cornerstone of the correctional plan. These needs are outlined in OMS for each offender. The CNIA is described in more detail in Section 4.3.

With respect to identified need areas, four general points are considered in Section 4:

    (1) What the women identified as having led to their imprisonment;

    (2) What the women considered their needs to be;

    (3) The women's criminogenic needs as identified by the CNIA; and

    (4) The women's perceptions regarding CNIA-identified need areas.

 

4.1 Factors Women Identified as Having Led to Their Imprisonment

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    My anger, my temper - I had a choice the day of my offence to...I thought I'd kill myself - but I couldn't do that - just didn't have the guts to do it. So, I wanted to make sure that I went to prison...I guess because I'd rather live in prison than on the street. Well, it's hard out there on the street. I lived out there...on the streets for a while - and didn't like it. All of my offences, since I've been an adult, are all violence. I'm trying to get control of it, you know. It's hard...I'm really impulsive, like you know. (Tanya)

There were obvious differences in the answers of the women in the GP and SNP segments with regard to the factors they identified as having led to their imprisonment. Specifically, in comparison to the women in the SNP segment, women in the GP segment were considerably more comprehensive in their answers and they assigned a greater degree of individual responsibility to their criminal behaviour. As well, women in the GP segment more often considered the factors that led to their imprisonment as issues that needed to be addressed while they were incarcerated.

Interestingly, when asked what led to their being in prison, nine women (64%) volunteered information that corresponded with one or more of the CNIA domains.

General population segment

  • Five women (83%) identified substance abuse as a factor that had led to their imprisonment. While all of these women mentioned their substance abuse in terms of their state of mind at the time the crime was committed, they less often spoke of their substance abuse as the motivating factor for the crime (e.g. robbery to support their addiction) (n=2).
  • Four women (67%) identified emotional problems, in particular problems with anger and being impulsive.
  • Three women (50%) identified financial issues as a precipitating factor.
  • As illustrated in the quotes below, the majority of women in the GP segment attribute their imprisonment to multiple factors, often including references to long-term struggles with substance abuse and financial difficulties, rather than a solitary factor.

    Like I was drinking since the age of 13 - but after I got divorced, I started drinking a lot more heavily and started getting involved with the criminal element. I believe that criminal behaviour isn't necessarily that you're born into it - I believe that you learn it - you adapt [sic] that sort of behaviour and I think I adapted [sic] it with the type of people I was hanging around with and also my alcohol abuse. But, on the other hand, I don't use that as an excuse for what I've done - I don't believe that it was totally the alcoholism that led me to do something like that - it was financial issues - a lot of anger, being in a couple of abusive relationships. (Alison)

    Emotional, definitely - well, I got to a point where, you know, I didn't care about the consequences. I had, you know, like tunnel vision - I knew what I was doing and that's what I was going to do and I didn't care if I was going to jail. And drugs. I had a problem with drugs - mainly prescription drugs - Valium, Halcion, stuff like that. Those are the factors. (Kerry)

    Drugs. I'd been using for about 10 years...So I committed the robbery in order to get money to buy drugs, yes. Also, my lifestyle...I was on the streets a lot, working. (Melissa)

    Well, I'm an alcoholic and I was having financial problems and it was just a spur of the moment thing - I was broke. (Chris)

  • Each of the six women in the GP segment volunteered reasons for their incarceration that corresponded with one or more of the CNIA domains.

Special needs population segment

  • Women in the SNP segment answered the question of what led to their being in prison much more literally and with much less self-insight. In contrast to the women in the GP segment, women in the SNP segment all attributed their imprisonment to a single factor with an external, and often immediate, focus specific to the commission of their offence (such as acting impetuously or having been provoked by someone), rather than multiple factors.

    A factor was...I had been drinking and was on medication and my head was all in a whirl when I did this - it was not planned. (Kim)

  • ˇRelated to the above point, five of the eight women in the SNP segment (63%) specifically blamed others for having caused them to commit their crime.

    The department of social service - the welfare crowd - got me in trouble... money-wise - they were supposed to give us a cheque - and when we got our cheque it was only thirty dollars...and I went down and I told them, "Give me my cheque or I'm going to knock your face in." So that's what I done. (Nicki)

    ...my landlord was givin' me a hard time, she was taking advantage of people... and the reason I lit the fire was that my landlord was ripping me off my money... (Clara)

  • Three women (38%) volunteered reasons for their incarceration that corresponded with one or more CNIA domains (substance abuse, financial, personal/emotional).

 

4.2 Women Identifying Their Own Needs

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Women were asked to describe what they considered their needs to be. Clear differences were evident in the extent and nature of the needs expressed by women in the GP segment as compared to those in the SNP segment. All women in the GP segment and most in the SNP segment spontaneously identified one or more needs that coincided with CNIA domains. Discrepancies were noted in the self-identified needs and those identified according to the CNIA; moreover, the content of these discrepancies varied across GP and SNP segments.

General population segment

  • Women in the GP segment predominantly focus on their personal/emotional needs, and to a limited extent, needs concerning their substance abuse. The women in the GP segment did not spontaneously identify the remaining CNIA domains (i.e. employment, marital/family, associates/social interactions, community functioning, and attitudes) as needs.
  • All women in the GP segment stated that they have various and/or overlapping personal/emotional needs. Within the domain of personal/emotional orientation needs, women primarily focus on needs concerning their impulsivity (n=6), difficulties in coping (n=4), and anger (n=3).

    Impulsivity...I'd probably do more harm to myself than anyone else. (Melissa)

    Anxiety. And impulsiveness. I guess when you have problems with rage you have anger...I was in this cycle...like - and I was always in seg [segregation] - you know, I'd get on these suicide trips - they'd have to cut me down, or a couple of times I went out in an ambulance 'cuz [sic] I OD'd, stuff like that - I was really fucked up, you know. And I'd get into these depressions. And I'd sit in my room and I'd slash myself and I'd smash my cell. And they put me in the Special Needs Unit... but I certainly don't see myself as a special needs case. I'm a little hyper, I'm a little impulsive, I have my ups and downs - who doesn't? (Kerry)

    I am a very - I'm an emotional [sic] disturbed person...the guards as well as the inmates here...they just don't understand me - they really don't understand me. And I feel like I don't fit in here, never have. And that - me being emotionally disturbed - like that really bothers me, a great deal. And I'm not getting any help from the warden or the staff. (Chris)

    ...But then when I ended up in jail, there, like, I was slashing my throat all the time - like really slashing, like. Sometimes when I burn myself - I think about him [person who sexually abused her] and I burn myself. Physically it hurts - burning - but slashing doesn't hurt - you don't feel, it doesn't hurt. But burning - when I first put the cigarette out it's really intense, but you can put your mind in a place and you don't feel it...but I did this one - two weeks ago - it's almost gone now. I can't remember why I did it though - I was upset about something. Now it doesn't seem to be enough ...'cuz [sic] I don't do it to die - I don't want to die. (Tanya)

    ...okay, I'm not drinking - but I still have attitude that I have to deal with...and I have to learn how to deal with people without being angry and stuff like that. (Alison)

    In the preceding quotes, self-injurious behaviour is perceived as an important issue around which women need assistance. In fact, half the women in the GP segment identified that they need help on this issue.

  • Three women in the GP segment (50%) spontaneously stated that they had needs involving being survivors of sexual abuse and one of these women also spoke to her self-esteem needs.

    Anger. Self-injury. Also sex abuse, I think. I haven't had any counseling for that since I've been in. (Tanya)

    Self-esteem...I never had any self-esteem. Lot of times I was suicidal - self-esteem and self-mutilation - people that think a lot of themselves don't normally do that. (Kerry)

  • Two women in the GP segment (33%) stated that they had needs concerning their depression.
  • Two of the women in the GP segment (33%) identified substance abuse as a need.

    Well, in terms of needs - I need to work on my issues, work on being impulsive, work on staying clean [from drugs]. (Kerry)

Special needs population segment

  • In comparison to women in the GP segment, the women in the SNP segment identify fewer needs and the needs that they do identify are often of a more basic subsistence nature. Specifically, women in the SNP segment identify needs that fall under the domains of community functioning (health care and hygiene) and employment (education), and less often needs that would fall under the domain of personal/emotional orientation.
  •  

    Education. Gym. Exercise...Health care. (Denise)

    I need some help when it comes to reading - can't concentrate on reading...I have a pain in my stomach right there [clutches stomach] - I used to be able to use TUM TUMS, eh, but now I can't...Soap. Personal care...I can't bathe...I don't know anything else...Something like warming up my meals...bathing. (Ellen)

    Well, I need more care...and I find it hard doing certain things... Well, we have more emotional problems - we need more of a tender, loving care - than just normal care - we need more extra care provided to us than a normal person. (Tina)

    My biggest needs is my job - for money. (Susan)

  • Two of the women in the SNP population (25%) spontaneously stated that they had needs related to dealing with past sexual trauma.

    Like I was raped and stuff - and I need to deal with that. I think about that a lot and it gets me upset. (Rita)

 

4.3 CNIA Identified Need Areas (Domains)

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As stated at the beginning of Section 4, the CNIA is CSC's protocol for identifying the offender's criminogenic needs. In short, the CNIA considers a broad array of case-specific aspects of the offender's personality and life circumstances, and data are clustered into seven target domains with multiple indicators for each: employment (35 indicators), marital/family (31 indicators), associates/social interaction (11 indicators), substance abuse (20 indicators), personal/emotional orientation (46 indicators), and attitude (24 indicators). An overall need level is estimated for each of the seven target areas after consideration of all indicators in that domain.8 Offenders are rated on each target domain along a four point continuum commensurate with the assessment of need, ranging from "asset to community adjustment (not applicable to substance abuse and personal/emotional orientation), to "no need for improvement," to "some need for improvement," (indicated on OMS as "some") to "significant need for improvement" (indicated on OMS as "considerable").

Table 5a shows the extent to which CNIA domains were identified for the women, and the extent to which the CNIA identified these women as having "considerable" or "some" needs in these domains. As shown, the CNIA identified all the maximum security women as having difficulties in multiple domain areas (across all 7 domains: 81%; mean number of domains identified per woman = 5.7, SD=1.0). This is consistent with Blanchette's (1997) findings that a high percentage of needs are identified by the CNIA for maximum security woman. In fact, Blanchette also noted that regardless of security level, most federally sentenced women have difficulties in multiple domain areas. More specifically, Blanchette found that maximum security women evidenced more need (across all 7 domains: 90.1%; range was 75.0% to 97.2%) than their medium security counterparts (across all 7 domains: 70.2%; range was 23.4% to 92.6%), who in turn, had more needs identified than those classified as minimum security (across all 7 domains: 52.0%; range was 3.3% to 83.6%).

Table 5a
Distribution of CNIA-Identified Need Areas

Need Area
Study Population (n=13*)

Total Some Cons.

Employment
10 (77%)
9 (69%)
1 (8%)
Marital/Family 13 (100%) 11 (85%) 2 (15%)
Associates/Social Interaction 10 (77%) 10 (77%) 0 (00%)
Substance Abuse 9 (69%) 6 (46%) 3 (23%)
Community Functioning 12 (92%) 7 (54%) 5 (38%)
Personal/Emotional Orientation
13 (100%)
3 (23%)
10 (77%)
Attitude 7 (54%) 4 (31%) 3 (23%)
TOTAL* 74 (81%) 50 (68%) 24 (32%)

      *Data available for 13 of the 14 women (no data available for 1 woman in the SNP segment). The total percentages are based on the total number of needs possible for this maximum security population as 91

      (7 domains x 13 women). The percentage calculated under the columns "Some" and "Cons." indicate the percentage of the total needs so rated.

For each of the population segments Table 5b shows the extent to which CNIA domains were identified for the women, and the extent to which the CNIA identified these women as having "considerable" or "some" needs in these domains.

    The personal/emotional orientation domain was identified for all women in both the GP and SNP segments. Moreover, needs in this domain were determined as "considerable" for the majority of this maximum security population (77%), and for all the women in the SNP segment. Differences were noted between the women in the GP and SNP segments with respect to the number of domains identified and whether needs were determined as "considerable" or "some" in those domains identified. Namely, women in the GP segment were identified with more CNIA needs (mean = 6.2, SD=.4) than women in the SNP segment (mean = 5.3, SD=1.2). However, most of these domains identified "some" needs (81% of needs identified) for women in the GP segment, whereas almost half (46%) of the women in the SNP segment showed "considerable" needs in those areas.

    Table 5b
    Percentage Distribution of CNIA-Identified Need Areas
Need Area
GP Segment (n=6)

Total Some Cons.

SNP Segment (n=7)

Total Some Cons.

Employment
5 (83%)
5 (83%)
0 (00%)
5 (71%)
4 (57%)
1 (14%)
Marital/Family 6 (100%) 6 (100%) 0 (00%) 7 (100%) 5 (71%) 2 (29%)
Associates/Social Interaction 6 (100%) 6 (100%) 0 (00%) 4 (57%) 4 (57%) 0 (00%)
Substance Abuse 6 (100%) 4 (67%) 2 (33%) 3 (43%) 2 (29%) 1 (14%)
Community Functioning 6 (100%) 5 (83%) 1 (17%) 6 (86%) 2 (29%) 4 (57%)
Personal/Emotional Orientation
6 (100%)
3 (50%)
3 (50%)
7 (100%)
0 (00%)
7 (100%)
Attitude 2 (33%) 1 (17%) 1 (17%) 5 (71%) 3 (43%) 2 (29%)
TOTAL* 37 (88%) 30 (81%) 7 (19%) 37 (75%) 20 (54%) 17 (46%)

*The total percentage is based on the total number of needs possible for women in the GP segment as 42, (7 domains x 6 women) and for women in the SNP segment as 49 (7 domains x 7 women). The percentages calculated under the columns "Some" and "Cons." indicate the percentage of the total needs for that segment so rated.

General population segment

As indicated in Table 5b, all women in the GP segment have needs concerning five of the seven domains: marital/family, associates/social interaction, substance abuse, community functioning, and personal/emotional orientation. These latter three domains accounted for most (86%) of the needs identified as "considerable." The employment domain was identified for at least five of the six women in the GP segment, while attitude was the least identified need (n=2, or 33%).

Special needs population segment

According to CNIA data (Table 5b), all women in the SNP segment have needs concerning two domains: personal/emotional orientation, and marital family. As well, at least 70% (5 of the 7 women) also are identified as having employment, community functioning, and attitude needs. The domains of personal/emotional orientation and community functioning account for 65% of needs identified as considerable. Substance abuse was the least identified need area.

 

4.4 Women's Perceptions of CNIA-Identified Need Areas

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Women were queried with respect to each of the seven CNIA domains. In order to prompt or increase their understanding of these domains, some explanation or discussion occurred regarding the components and indicators comprising each domain. This query was purely a descriptive exercise; by no means was the CNIA ever considered in a depth befitting its integrity as an assessment tool. Rather, the purpose of the exercise was to gain some insight as to the women's perceptions regarding their criminogenic needs and the amount of agreement or "buy-in" for women in relation to the CNIA domains identified for them.

    Women in both population segments were generally aware of the seven CNIA domains and which needs had been identified for them for specific programming. Across both population segments, the overall amount of agreement between CNIA-identified and women-identified needs was 48.8% (SD=17.7%). There were only four instances where women (1 GP, 3 SNP) identified a need area (one each) that had not been identified for them in the CNIA. Again, there were marked differences between the two population segments with respect to the number of needs the women identified (with women in the GP segment identifying almost twice the amount), and the amount of agreement between CNIA-identified and women-identified needs (greater agreement in the GP segment). These differences are described in more detail below.

General population segment

  • Table 6a shows the extent to which CNIA domains were identified for the women in the GP segment and in comparison to those the women themselves identified as needs (both spontaneously and following specific probing about the domains).

Table 6a
Correspondence Between CNIA- and Women-Identified Need Areas
(General Population Segment)

Need Area

CNIA-Identified

# %

Women-Identified

# %

Employment 5 83.3 2 33.3
Marital/Family 6 100.0 3 50.0
Associates/Social Interaction 6 100.0 2 33.3
Substance Abuse 6 100.0 3 50.0
Community Functioning 6 100.0 3 50.0
Personal/Emotional Orientation 6 100.0 6 100.0
Attitude 2 33.3 2* 33.3
(n=6) TOTAL 37 88.1 21 50.0

    *Includes one woman who did not have this need identified on her CNIA.

    In general, the table reveals that women identified themselves as having approximately half (57%) the number of needs that the CNIA identified. More specifically, on average, women in the GP segment perceived themselves as having needs in 3.5 of the 7 CNIA domains (SD=2.1) as compared to the average of 6.2 (SD=.4) domains identified by the CNIA.

    The amount of agreement between CNIA-identified and women-identified needs was 54.8% (SD=21%). When considering only those needs identified by the CNIA as "considerable" the amount of agreement increased to 80% (n=5).

    Women in the GP segment show a high level of concordance with two CNIA-identified domains: personal/emotional needs, and attitude needs. However, with regard to the remaining domains, there is a considerable lack of concordance (at least 50%) between need areas identified by the CNIA and those identified by the women as needs.

  • Once specifically probed about the CNIA domain needs that women did not spontaneously mention, women in the GP segment concurred that they did have some other needs that they had not initially mentioned. Included were needs concerning employment, attitude, substance abuse, associates/social interaction, marital/family, and to a lesser extent, personal/emotional.

    Below are examples of their comments regarding some of these needs.

    Okay, with employment - I'm going to be working with my dad when I get out, so I don't think that that should be on my correctional treatment plan. Because I have a plan - because my dad said I could work with him when I get out... Well, it seems that they want me to take anger management - they don't think that I've like - have dealt with - like I took anger management here though - and I completed it...No I don't [feel like I have a problem with anger], not anymore. (Pam)

    The employment issue - like there was just no work. No work led to depression which led to drinking which led to "well, I have to do something besides supporting my habit"...I worked part-time, but when I'd go down to try and get some financial assistance I was turned away because I was already making some money. But what I was making wasn't enough to make ends meet. Led me to be depressed... [Recently] I thought about it for a long time - and I thought about, well I'm [gives age] - what can I possibly do to make my life better - I mean, to get a better job and to look after my [child] - because [child] is going to be living with me when I get out...Plus I'm dealing with an addiction as it is - such an addiction as it is where you can go into a restaurant and there's alcohol provided - it's just everywhere and it's socially acceptable to a point. But I find that very hard.... (Alison)

    I need to learn - I need to find new people to be with, be around...also like being depressed a lot, slashing and stuff. I have a problem with that - and I don't know how to cope very well. (Melissa)

Special needs population segment

  • Table 6b compares the extent to which the CNIA domains were identified for women in the SNP segment and in comparison to those identified by the women themselves (both spontaneously and following specific probing).

    As revealed in the table, there is a considerable difference in the extent to which women in the SNP segment identified themselves as having needs and the number of needs identified by the CNIA. Indeed, women in the SNP segment identify themselves as having only one third of the needs identified by the CNIA. More specifically, on average, women in the SNP segment perceived themselves as having needs in 1.8 of the 7 CNIA domains (SD=1.2) as compared to the average 5.0 (SD=1.1) domains that were identified by the CNIA.

    There is less agreement (42.9%, SD=12.7) between CNIA-identified and women-identified needs for women in the SNP segment than for women in the GP segment. As well, when considering only those needs identified by the CNIA as "considerable" the amount of agreement was also much lower in this segment (43.1%, SD=33.5; n=7).

Table 6b
Correspondence Between CNIA- and Women-Identified Domain Areas
(Special Needs Population Segment)

Need Area

CNIA-Identified

# %

Women-Identified

# %

Employment
4 66.7 1* 16.7
Marital/Family 6 100.0 0 00.0
Associates/Social Interaction 3 50.0 0 00.0
Substance Abuse 2 33.3 1 16.7
Community Functioning 5 83.3 2* 33.3
Personal/Emotional Orientation 6 100.0 4 66.7
Attitude 4 66.7 3* 50.0
(n=6) TOTAL 30 71.4 11 26.2

      *Each of these three domains includes one woman (different women) who did not have this domain identified on her CNIA.

  • ˇ There are marked variations between specific CNIA-identified and women-identified needs relating to all factors with the exception of their needs concerning the domains of attitude and personal/emotional orientation. Women in the SNP segment are most likely to volunteer and when probed, state that they have personal/emotional needs, rather than any other needs. It is important to note that, when specifically probed, women in the SNP segment do not think of themselves as having any needs concerning associates/social interactions or marital/family, even though this latter domain was identified 100% of the time by the CNIA.

    Once specifically probed about the domain needs that women did not spontaneously mention, women in the SNP segment concurred that they did have some other needs that they had not initially mentioned. Included were needs concerning their personal/emotional orientation and attitude.

    Examples of women's comments regarding some of these needs are as follows.

    Substance abuse - yes I'm a heroin addict. Community functioning...I think I need to change my attitude towards the police - but they have to change their attitudes about how they deal with some of the people instead of us just changing completely...well I have excessive/impulsive disorder [sic] - and so I need to learn how to control myself more, but they're medicating me for that. (Tina)

    I guess I need a bit more help about not getting angry. (Nicki)

8 It is important to note that in providing an estimate of overall need level for each of the seven domains, more than just the number of indicators is taken into account. There is room for discretion on behalf of the assessor in terms of the weight of particular indicators. As well, information derived from CNIA indicators is complemented by psychological evaluations, behavioural observations, and supplementary assessments.