Women's Transitions from Prison : The Post-Release Experience book cover
1st Edition

Women's Transitions from Prison
The Post-Release Experience

ISBN 9780367227241
Published January 31, 2019 by Routledge
156 Pages 28 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Women continue to be one of the fastest growing groups of offenders with an increasing group of women involved in the criminal justice system around the world. Whilst internationally women comprise a low percentage of the total prison population, there is an escalating use of custody inextricably linked to the high levels of personal and social needs of women involved in the justice system. This book presents original research undertaken with Corrections Victoria, Australia, which examines the effectiveness of services and programmes women access in prison and after release, and the impact of this on successful reintegration into the community and on other trends such as reoffending.

Victoria’s Department of Justice introduced the Better Pathways strategy in response to a growing number of women entering the Victorian corrections system, and the concerning extent to which prison is used for women with inadequate accommodation and complex treatment and support needs. The strategy was developed to address the causes of women's offending and to try and help break the cycle of women's reoffending, by funding more holistic initiatives to support women in their transition to life after prison. It is well acknowledged that pathways into offending by women can also be the factors that most affect their reintegration.

The research outlined in this book presents data about individual women’s pathways through the programmes offered as part of the Better Pathways strategy and the views of the women themselves about the effectiveness of these programmes. Negligible research attention has been paid to what services and programmes are effective for women after prison. This book addresses this gap and provides a cohesive presentation of the key issues salient to the needs of women offenders.

Table of Contents


1. Women after prison: Female crime, custody and community

2. Policy developments in Victoria: The Better Pathways strategy

3. The transition from prison to community: Evaluating the Better Pathways strategy

4. After prison: Adapting to community life

5. Services and programmes: Sustaining the transition to community

6. Culture and ethnicity: Life after prison for Indigenous and culturally diverse women

7. After prison: Return to reoffending

8. Women’s voices: Women’s experiences

9. Women in the justice system: Maintaining desistance



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Rosemary Sheehan is Professor in the Department of Social Work at Monash University, Australia.

Chris Trotter is Professor in the Department of Social Work at Monash University, Australia, and Director of the Monash Criminal Justice Research Consortium.


"There is now greater understanding that women in conflict with the law need different interventions from men to address their needs and facilitate transitions from custody to community.  This book is inspiring; its focus on individual pathways, combined with messages from women themselves provides compelling evidence for new directions in criminal justice policy.  Based on Better Pathways in Victoria, Australia, the book deserves wide readership and political action."    

- Loraine Gelsthorpe, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Cambridge, UK

"Criminal justice systems all over the world fail to provide effective services for women released from prison. This book shows how it can be done. Based on meticulous research and on the views of service users themselves about what helps, it is essential reading for everyone committed to the development of better resettlement services."

- Peter Raynor, Emeritus Research Professor in Criminology and Criminal Justice, Swansea University, UK