Date of Conferral
Female offenders are distinctly different from male offenders, and present with their own gender-specific needs and issues both in and out of the correctional setting. Most approaches to treatment and programming for female offenders are currently based on research involving males and approaches designed for males. Inquiry regarding the gender-specific needs of female inmates as they pertain to treatment and reentry programs is necessary so professionals can better understand how to serve this population. Through in-depth semi-structured interviews with 8 women who were formerly incarcerated in the United States, this phenomenological study was used to examine the perceptions of successful reintegration of formerly incarcerated women before, during, and after incarceration that influenced their successful reentry into the community. Coping mechanisms or traits that were important to their successful reentry to the community were also explored. Feminist theory was used to illustrate the differences between male and female offenders, and to highlight the potential benefits of designing treatments and programming that are specifically aimed at the needs of female offenders. Data were analyzed via descriptive and pattern coding, which then allowed for identification of themes, and then cross-interview analysis. Six themes emerged that related to factors that influenced their successful reentry into the community, and 5 themes emerged related to coping mechanisms or personal traits that were important to their successful reentry. Recommendations include implementation of programs and services for incarcerated and newly released women that are gender-specific. These findings could contribute to social change by improving treatment outcomes, reducing recidivism, and improving functioning in the community for female offenders.