THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN EDUCATION LEVELS ATTAINED BY
FEMALE PRISONERS AND PARTICIPATION IN JOB TRAINING
Jessica Marchese Gapuzan
B.A. Regis University, 1998
B.S. Regis University, 1998
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts Sociology
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
This thesis for Master of Arts Sociology
Jessica Marchese Gapuzan
has been approved
Gapuzan, Jessica Marchese
The Relationship Between Education Levels Attained by Female Prisoners and
Participation in Job Training Programs
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Candan Duran-Aydintug
Female prisoners face a myriad of social problems including poverty, being the
victims of abuse, and substance abuse problems. Research in this area, as well
as the results of this study indicate that the majority of these women have
attained less than a high school education. Presumably, participation in job
training programs will assist incarcerated women in obtaining employment that
will contribute to post-release success. This study seeks to determine the
relationship, if any, between education levels attained by incarcerated women
and their participation in job training programs.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
I dedicate this thesis to my husband and my family, whom supported me
throughout this entire endeavor.
My thanks to my advisor, Dr. Candan Duran-Aydintug for her contribution and
support of my research. I also thank my committee members for their
participation and insights.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Purpose of the Study................................1
Limitations of the Study............................1
2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE......................................3
Statistics on Incarceration Rates...................3
History of Incarcerated Women.......................3
Causes of Female Incarceration......................4
The Treatment of Female Prisoners..................13
Programming for Female Prisoners...................15
Health Care for Female Inmates.....................18
Substance Abuse Treatment in Prisons...............21
Family Issues of Incarcerated Women................22
Pre-Release Programming in Womens Prisons.........24
3. RESEARCH QUESTIONS...........................................29
TABLE OF CONTENTS (2)
LIST OF TABLES
5.1 Chi Square Analysis of the Relationship
Between Highest Grade Attended
and Participation in Job Training Programs
Chi Square Analysis of the Relationship Between Highest Grade Attended and
Participation in Job Training Programs
Participation in Job Training Program
Variable N Yes No yl p
Highest Grade Attended
Never Attended 12 3 9
First 9 2 6
Second 7 1 6
Third 11 2 9
Fourth 16 0 16
Fifth 20 8 12
Sixth 62 16 46
Seventh 103 26 75
Eighth 224 78 143
Ninth 93 100 287
Tenth 51 187 368
Eleventh 63 197 434
Twelfth 949 270 668
Freshman 196 68 126
Sophomore 270 87 181
Junior 80 18 62
Senior 153 46 104
One Year 20 3 17
Two or More Years 45 7 37
Totals 3768 1122 2614
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to understand the relationship, if any,
between the level of education attained by incarcerated females and their
participation in job training programs. This study cites the fact that female
incarceration rates are rising. The research cited in this study outlines the social
issues faced by these women, including poverty and substance abuse. Many of
these women are also the victims of violent crimes. Once the women are
incarcerated, there are not enough programs in the prison systems to assist them
in overcoming these obstacles. It is for these reasons that it is important to
understand how education levels affect participation in job training programs.
If there were a greater focus on educating at-risk youth, possibly the rising
incarceration rates would be reduced. Education and job training programs
should be available in prisons to increase the likelihood of success upon release
and decrease the likelihood of recidivism.
Limitations of the Study
There are some limitations in this study. First, this research is based
upon secondary data collection. The researcher was limited to the questions in
the study. This limitation made it difficult to use variables that were specifically
suited to the needs of the study. The variable that measured level of education
attained had both ninth grade and freshman, tenth grade and sophomore,
eleventh grade and junior, and twelfth grade and senior. These poorly defined
definitions may have compromised the results of the study. The variable to
measure participation in job training programs measured if the inmate had ever
participated in job training programs. For the purposes of this study, it would
have been optimal to measure current participation in job training programs.
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Statistics on Incarceration Rates
With incarceration rates rising, there are questions about how society is
affected by this phenomenon. Female incarceration has become a social
problem because according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics on Criminal
Offenders (2005), women were 6.6 percent of the State prison inmates in 2001,
up from 6 percent in 1995. Women were 12 percent of the local jail inmates in
2002, up from 10 percent in 1996. In 1998 there were about 3.2 million arrests
of women, making up about 22 percent of all arrests that year. Based on self-
reported data, women account for about 14 percent of all violent offenders.
Overall, women accounted for about 16 percent of all felonies in State courts.
Only about 8 percent of these felonies were for violent crime, 23 percent were
from property crime, and 17 percent constituted drug crimes. As of 1998, there
were more than 950,000 women under correctional supervision, which makes
up about 1 percent of the total female population (Bureau of Justice Statistics,
2005). Therefore, it is important to understand the factors and reasons for the
incarceration of women.
History of Incarcerated Women
Muraskin (2003) provides a review of the history of incarcerated
women. The first penal institution for women opened in Indiana in 1873. After
this, female institutions started to crop up all over the country. When the first
female institution opened, the first disparate treatment between male and female
inmates began. Women in early institutions were often confined in one-room
areas and were only fed once a day. They were not allowed to exercise and
were required to sew (Muraskin, 2003). At times, female prisoners have been
treated more poorly than male prisoners, and at other times, they were treated
more nicely because of the Chivalry Factor. In recent times, however, the
Chivalry Factor does not seem to exist. Today, womens prisons are smaller,
more crowded, and fewer in number. They are often located in outlying areas,
far from family and friends. According to the author, due to the fact that
womens incarceration rates are increasing so much, government and criminal
justice officials will need to address the issue of disparate treatment of female
prisoners very soon (Muraskin, 2003).
Causes of Female Incarceration
Females are incarcerated for many reasons. According to Bottcher
(2001), more delinquent females report being the victims of abuse. Taylor and
Esposito (2003) find that rates of violent crime on the part of adolescent females
is on the rise due to factors like victimization, substance abuse, poverty, and
dysfunctional family situations. Hoffman (1997) and Steffensmeier and Haynie
(2000) find that low socioeconomic status lead to higher crime rates on the part
I would argue that the rapid increase in the incarceration of women is an
extremely important social problem due to the effects on family. Society and
government should work to alleviate the social problems that create female
criminals, as well as provide comprehensive programming and medical care for
incarcerated women. It is clear that the socialization of females is a factor the
fact that crime rates for females are lower than those of males. Bottcher (2001)
evaluates this issue.
Bottcher (2001) interviewed 29 delinquent youth who had siblings.
Forty siblings-15 brothers and 25 sisters of these delinquent youth were
interviewed. The author interviewed the 29 wards and their 40 siblings with
open-ended questions in order to determine which factors, when combined with
gender, have a relationship with delinquency. Generally, Bottcher (2001) finds
that brothers were more delinquent than sisters by the standard measure
(delinquency and non-delinquency were measured by self-reports and probation
records). She finds that males are more likely to enforce boundary
maintenance keeping male and female friendships segregated. The youth also
expressed that their activities are stereotypically common, males engaged in
more active play and females were less active. Males also moved more freely
and actively. Bottcher (2001) finds that the youth were overwhelmingly
heterosexual, males with an emphasis on relations with multiple females and
females focusing on an exclusive relationship with one male. The males
reported more dominance than the females on the nature and pace of their
heterosexual relationships. The females reported fewer sexual relations and
more restrictions on these relations than did the males. These patterns were
exaggerated among delinquent youth. Finally, she finds that the at-risk or
delinquent youth had a history of family instability, poverty, and environmental
hardships. Males in the study were given more independence in regards to
household rules than were females. Interestingly, a greater number of females
reported being the victims of abuse than did males, a factor that has been found
to lead to female delinquency (Bottcher, 2001).
In relation to delinquency rates, Bottcher (2001) finds that females
assume responsibility earlier in life and concludes that this may be the reason
that females age out of delinquency earlier. In this study, boys and girls
embraced the social expectations of their gender, which leads to boys being
expected to commit delinquent acts, while girls are discouraged from them. The
author concludes that her study supports the notion that gender differences in
crime rates are rooted in power differences between the sexes (Bottcher, 2001).
Taylor and Esposito (2003) examine the claims that violent
offense rates by adolescent females are on the rise. In the past, female crime
rates have been attributed to the females mental health problems. Recently,
however, data suggest that females commit crimes due to a combination of
factors including-victimization, substance abuse, unfavorable economic
conditions, and dysfunctional family systems. There is no doubt that arrest rates
for females are on the rise, however, the authors of this study ask whether these
increased rates are due to more social focus on crimes committed by females or
and actual increase in crimes committed. According to Taylor and Esposito
(2003), arrest for violent offenses increased by 40% for females between 1990
and 1999, whereas it only increased by 3% for males during the same time
period. Also, almost every year since 1984, there has been an increase in
juvenile homicide rates committed by females. When examining the interaction
between race and gender, the authors cite research (Sarri, 1983) that found that
African American boys are most likely to be rigorously prosecuted, African
American girls were likely to get probation, Caucasian boys were likely to have
charges dropped, and Caucasian girls were likely to receive alternative
punishment (Taylor and Esposito, 2003). Clearly, there is disparate treatment of
minority children, but minority males seem to receive the harshest sentences.
Taylor and Esposito (2003) examine the reasons for the increase in
offending rates of females. They cite several studies to explain female violent
crime rates. One study (Chesney-Lind, 1997) found that since the Womens
Movement of the 1970s, females are more likely to commit crime because they
are rebelling against a submissive role. They cite other studies (Sommer and
Baskin, 1994; Peters and Peters, 1998) that found that multiple factors,
including age, neighborhood, peers, and addiction contribute to the female
violent crime rate. Another study cited in this article (Taylor et. al. 1997)
claims that family factors, such as low family pride and substance abuse lead to
increased crime rates among females, especially minority females. As a
solution, Taylor and Esposito (2003) suggest that the following actions be taken
on national, state, and local levels. They suggest that government officials
should examine the protection of children, look at the needs of incarcerated
female adolescents, provide services to at-risk and delinquent youth, and help
communities come up with plans to reduce youth offending rates (Taylor and
Clearly, socialization of females affects their crime rates. According to
Bottcher (2001), females are socialized to take more responsibilities earlier in
life, which may cause them to age out of delinquency at an earlier age than do
males. In their Meta-analysis, Taylor and Esposito (2003) cite numerous studies
(Chesney-Lind, 1997; Sommer and Baskin, 1984; Peters and Peters, 1998; and
Taylor et. al. 1997) that found that dysfunction in families; substance abuse,
age, neighborhood, addiction, and the empowerment of women contribute to the
female crime rates. It is helpful, however, to examine other possible factors that
are leading to the rising crime and incarceration rates of females. Among these
are socioeconomic factors like poverty and economic disadvantage.
Osgood and Chambers (2000) suggest that examining urban versus rural
youth lends to insight into causal factors of youth delinquency. More
specifically, they seek to understand if social disorganization theory is a
factorial explanation of urban violence. The authors hypothesized that rates of
juvenile violence would be positively associated with residential instability,
ethnic heterogeneity, family disruption, low economic status, and close
proximity to urban areas. Osgood and Chambers (2000) found that residential
instability, ethnic heterogeneity, and family disruption were all positively
associated with specific categories of crime. They did not find a relationship
between poverty rates or proximity to a metropolitan area and crime rates
among juveniles, and there was only limited support for the population
size/density variable (Osgood and Chambers, 2000).
Hoffman (1997) examines the macroeconomic indicators of drug arrests
among women in New York City. Her thesis is that drug crime is the result of
lack of economic opportunity (strain theory). She hypothesizes that the
economic circumstances of poor women lead them to participate in illegal drug
activity and thus, increase their likelihood of arrest. Furthermore, she
hypothesizes that since minority women are more likely to have poor economic
circumstances, they will be more likely to be arrested for drug offenses.
Specifically, macroeconomic conditions that affect poor and low-skilled
women have a significant impact on annual changes in drug arrests (Hoffman,
1997, pp 88). The author used a series of disentitlement factors to measure
poverty among women. She also used inflation, the gini coefficient, racial
inequality, and unemployment to predict that these factors would have a
positive effect on arrest rates (Hoffman, 1997).
Hoffman (1997) finds that the economic disentitlement of women is a
strong predictor of arrest rates. The measure that included racial inequality is
highly significant. All variables of economic inequality (real welfare payments,
real minimum wage, income, and racial market inequality) are significant
predictors of arrest rates. The author finds that when womens employment
rates decline, their arrest rates increase. She concludes that macroeconomic
conditions do affect crime rates, and that it is not enough to improve economic
conditions, but economic growth must occur as well. Furthermore, Hoffman
(1997) concludes that economic inequality and disentitlement are big problems
and that to reduce the illegal drug commerce, we must improve the earning
power of low-skilled women. Clearly, economic disadvantage is a factor in
crime rates (Hoffman, 1997).
Other researchers have found support for the hypothesis that increased
poverty rates have a positive relationship with crime rates. Hannon and
Defronzo (1998) studied the effects of resource deprivation and metropolitan
crime rates. There is statistical support for the notion that welfare expenditures
are associated with reduced crime rates (Defronzo, 1996a, 1996b, 1997). These
authors theorize that in areas where more welfare assistance is available, anomie
is less prevalent, leading to lower crime rates. Hannon and Defronzo (1998)
used Census Data, the Uniform Crime Reports, public assistance income per
poor recipient (along with other demographic and poverty measure variables) to
test their hypothesis that crime rates would be lower in areas where more public
assistance is available. They found that in areas where higher welfare payments
were available and in areas where there were high deprivation rates, the positive
relationship between deprivation rates and crime rates was reduced. They were
able to find support for their theory that anomie is reduced because deprived
populations are able to legally obtain culturally defined goals.
There is other support for the theory that high deprivation rates increase
crime rates. DeFronzo (1983) found that when the payments of Assistance to
Families with Dependant Children increased due to cost of living increases,
homicide rates, rape, and burglary rates decreased. Rosenfeld (1986) found that
when AFDC benefits were restrictive, there was a positive effect on the crime
rate. Finally, Devine, Shelly, and Smith (1988) found statistical support for a
negative relationship between welfare spending and burglary rates (although
they were not able to find the same negative relationship between welfare
spending and homicide).
Other studies examine the relationship between drug use and
delinquency among adolescents. Otero-Lopez et. al. (1994). They found that
there was a significant relationship between drug use (especially legal drugs,
such as spirits) and delinquency. The authors found that the relationship is
reciprocal. In other words, drug use contributes to delinquency and delinquency
contributes to drug abuse. The authors are able to conclude that drug use and
delinquency are associated, and my both be the result of other outside factors
and variables (Otero-Lopez et.al., 1994).
Steffensmeier and Haynie (2000) also conducted a study to analyze how
social factors affect female offending rates. They look at the relationships
between variables like structural disadvantage, gender, and the type of crime
committed. The authors derive their data from the 1990 Bureau of Census
publications and the UCR Program (Steffensmeier and Haynie, 2000).
Steffensmeier and Haynie (2000) find that males have higher offending
rates than females. They also find that both male and female offending rates are
higher in areas with higher structural disadvantage (indicated by family
disruption, poverty, racial composition, joblessness, and income inequality).
The authors find limited support in the data for the hypothesis that the variables
would have smaller effects on female than male offending rates for serious
crimes. The authors found that most disadvantage indicators are more strongly
associated with male crime rates than female crime rates. They conclude that
the structural disadvantage variables (percent black of the female city
population, percent black of the male city population, female poverty, male
poverty, female and male joblessness, female joblessness, and income
inequality) have positive effects on the direction of crime rates for both sexes
but not the magnitude. Finally, the authors conclude that the structural sources
of female offending are very similar to those of male offending (Steffensmeier
and Haynie, 2000).
While it is interesting and important to understand the crime rates of
females, it is also important to understand the outcomes of committing crimes.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (2005), female incarceration rates
are increasing. Because this is an increasing social problem, it is invaluable to
understand the ways that women are treated when they are incarcerated, what
types of training and education programs are available to them, the availability
of health care in womens correctional facilities, and substance abuse programs
for incarcerated women. It is also important to understand the pretrial release
prospects for women and what programs are available upon release for
The Treatment of Female Prisoners
Muraskin (2003) discusses treatment of female prisoners. There are
many landmark court cases about the differences in treatment of males and
females who are incarcerated, as well as the different needs of the two groups.
In many institutions, the standards that were made for men were applied to
women. Females also need extra help with issues involving family because they
are often the primary caretakers of their children. Muraskin (2003) states that
historically, vocational and educational training for incarcerated women has
been under funded. The institutions excuse for this is that there are such a
small number of incarcerated women; it is not worth the expense to bring these
programs into the facilities, however, the courts have ruled that this is not fair
treatment (Muraskin, 2003).
According to Muraskin (2003), while the Constitution does not require
the government to provide any benefits above the basic requirements to inmates,
based on the Equal Protection Clause, inmates must be treated equally. The
case of The United States ex rel Robinson v. York (1968) held that women
serving indeterminate terms couldnt serve longer sentences than men serving
indeterminate terms in prison. Several other cases involving disparities in terms
for incarcerated males and females yield similar rulings. Since many womens
facilities did not have the same resources as mens facilities, cases were brought
to court. In Bounds v. Smith (1977) the court held that all facilities must have
law libraries to allow inmates access to legal information. Furthermore, the
court in this case found that the libraries in mens and womens facilities must
be equal. The case of Todaro v. Ward (1977) and Estelle v. Gamble (1976) held
that medical services for female inmates must be as available and have as much
quality as those available for male inmates. Finally, in Glover V. Johnson
(1979) the court ruled that female inmates must have the same access to
educational and vocational opportunities as male inmates (Muraskin, 2003).
Programming for Female Prisoners
Clearly, educational and vocational training are important parts of
rehabilitating incarcerated women and making it possible for them to have
productive lives upon release. While there are many vocational and educational
programs emerging, they are not available to all inmates, especially not female
inmates. When they are available, there are problems with the programming.
Schram (2003) provides an analysis on gender stereotyping in vocational
training for incarcerated women.
Schram (2003) begins her analysis by discussing cultural stereotypes of
women. Historically, white, upper and middle class cultures have stereotyped
women into either-or roles; women are dichotomized into Madonna/whore
dualities. The author argues that another problem is that women are pressured
to be passive and submissive because it is a societal belief that they are
genetically predisposed to be this way. Schram (2003) argues that gender
differences are not genetic, but instead, socially created. These social
expectations have lead society to have different expectations of female
prisoners. She argues that most women in prison are there for breaking moral
laws (e.g. prostitution). Women who commit these crimes are deemed as
morally corrupt and in need of transformation. When womens institutions
emerged, the programming was based upon making these women true women
and good housewives (Schram, 2003). Schram (2003) cites studies that
found that vocational training for female inmates reinforce the traditional roles
of women. According to several studies cited by Schram (2003) (Carlen, 1982,
Carp and Schade, 1993, Chapman, 1980; Moyer, 1984), the majority of the
programming available to women is sewing, food services, secretarial, domestic
work, and cosmetology. There were some institutions that provided non-
traditional programming such as auto repair, welding, and carpentry, but these
were exceptions to the rule. Furthermore, when assigned work assignments,
gender roles are reinforced. Women are more often assigned to janitorial and
kitchen assignments, whereas men are assigned to maintenance and repair
duties. Schram (2003) cites several litigations that were brought to the courts
by incarcerated women who want fair vocational and educational programming.
The courts decisions in many of these cases were in the favor of the female
inmates-they must receive equal access to programming and the programming
quality must be equal. Schram (2003) argues that this stereotypical
programming is a form of social control and women must be given equal
programming in prison rehabilitation programs to be treated fairly (Schram,
2003). Clearly, the socialization of women that occurs outside of prison also
exists inside of institutions.
Brewster (2003) analyzes the effects of rehabilitation programs and
recidivism. He asserts that there are typically two types of rehabilitation
programs-educational and vocational. Although Brewster cites studies finding
that there are minimal or no effects of education programs on recidivism rates
(Martinson, 1974, Lipton, Martinson and Wilkes, 1975, and Johnson, Shearon
& Britton, 1974), there are also studies that support the notion that education
programs reduce recidivism rates (Beck & Shipley, 1989, Harer, 1994, and
Gerber and Fritsch, 1995). Therefore, although the results of these studies are
mixed, there is support for educational programs reducing recidivism rates.
Brewster (2003) discusses the other typical type of prison program-
vocation education programs designed to assist the inmate obtain marketable
skills to use upon release. Brewster (2003) cites studies that measure the effect
of vocational programs on recidivism rates. Chown and Davis (1986) found
that vocational programs in Oklahoma did not have an effect on recidivism
rates, while Udell and Morton (1986) found that inmates who had completed
vocational training had lower recidivism rates than those who did not completed
vocational training programs. Again, while the results are mixed, there is some
support for vocational training reducing recidivism rates.
Brewster (2003) conducted his own study to test the efficacy of GED
and vocational programs on the reduction of recidivism rates in the Oklahoma
Department of Corrections. Brewster (2003) hypothesized that both the GED
and vocational programs would help reduce recidivism rates. The author found
that an inmate who had obtained a GED while incarcerated was less likely to
recidivate. Interestingly, the vocational training variable had a positive
relationship with recidivism-inmates who had participated in the program were
more likely to recidivate. Brewster (2003) speculates that this could be an
indication that the skills supplied in the vocational programs are not marketable
upon the release of the inmate. Clearly, despite the limited results cited in this
study, there is a definite need for educational programs in prisons and
vocational programs should be examined to determine if the skills being taught
are marketable to the inmate upon release.
Health Care for Female Inmates
Unfortunately, health care in womens facilities is severely lacking and
needs enhanced funding. Anderson (2003) explores this issue. According to
Anderson (2003), institutions have used the argument of too few incarcerated
females to excuse the fact that the health care available to them is disparate.
Two factors exacerbate this problem-the prevalence of drug and alcohol
addiction among female inmates create greater physical and mental health needs
among this population and womens reproductive systems require care that
institutions are not prepared to handle (Anderson, 2003).
Anderson (2003) begins her analysis by discussing the health problems
of women in prison. She cites research (Maruschak and Beck, 1997) that found
that women in prison have more health problems than men and women in the
general population and more than men in prison (Lindquist and Lindquist,
1999; Young, 1998). Women in prison are likely to have more deadly health
problems than men, as well as more non-lethal but chronic health problems.
They also have higher levels of mental health problems than do incarcerated
men (Anderson, 2003).
Historically correctional institutions have failed to provide adequate
health care for incarcerated women (Anderson, 2003). Institutions tried to
provide mental health care to women prisoners because of the societal belief
that a woman is mentally ill if she commits a crime, but very little physical
health care was available. Also, women were exposed to deplorable conditions
in prison. Women were housed with men in prison, where sexual abuse
occurred and babies were bom to ill health in prison. It was not until Todaro v.
Ward (1977) when the court ruled that women must have equal access to
medical care did conditions begin to change (Anderson, 2003).
Anderson (2003) does an analysis on current conditions in prisons as
they relate to womens health care. There are problems with collecting data on
this issue because most prisons do not keep adequate records on health care and
services provided. Ideologically, society does not want to fund adequate health
care for prisoners. Therefore, an inmate is not seen as having a health problem
if he or she does not show symptoms, and very little, if any, preventative care is
provided. Because of the increased social problems (e.g. substance abuse)
discussed in this paper, incarcerated women need adequate health care in prison.
The health issues of these women are compounded because the health care in
prisons is substandard or non-existent. To remedy this, prisons are taking a
number of steps. First, they are asking inmates to give a co-pay for medical
treatment. Anderson argues that this is preventing these women from obtaining
the care they need because of the likelihood that they cannot afford to pay the co
pays. Second, many prisons are privatizing. The author believes that due to the
increased costs of incarcerating females, the private prisons will not accept
women inmates. Anderson (2003) argues that women are more likely to be
subjected to this substandard medical care. She argues that the fact that these
women face increased health problems, cannot afford to pay for the co pays, and
the prospect of women not being accepted to private prisons will cause a greater
disparity in health care for women (Anderson, 2003).
According to Anderson (2003), currently, there are major health care
problems for incarcerated women. Many women enter prison pregnant. There
are little or no services for prenatal care and the women There are not many
prison equipped for childbirth, so the transport to outside facilities causes both
physical and mental problems for the woman. After giving birth, many women
are not given medications to dry up their breast milk, causing them pain and
discomfort. There are only very limited gynecological services available to
women in prison. Currently, many state prisons test for HIV/AIDS and provide
medication for these ailments while the prisoner is incarcerated. The prisoner
usually receives a limited supply of these medications upon release. Finally,
very few services are offered to incarcerated females for mental illness.
According to Anderson, although much advancement has been made in
providing adequate health care to incarcerated individuals, there is still a huge
problem in this area (Anderson, 2003).
Substance Abuse Treatment in Prisons
To compound the issue, female inmates are often incarcerated for drug
crimes and/or struggle with substance abuse and addiction. Margaret S. Kelley
(2003) explores the treatment and abuse programs for incarcerated women in
the United States. According to Kelley (2003), the development of these
programs has not kept up with the high incarceration rates of women. She states
that the programs that do exist are deficient and fail to meet the unique needs of
incarcerated women. Fewer than 20% of female inmates get help for addiction.
According to Kelley (2003), due to the fact that the average female offender is
poor, uneducated, unskilled, has a history of physical and/or sexual abuse, and
have drug and alcohol abuse problems when they enter prison, it is necessary to
implement treatment programs that can help them become productive members
of society upon release. Women also have special needs when it comes to drug
and alcohol treatment-pregnancy and motherhood, dual diagnosis, and a history
of violence (Kelley, 2003).
According to Kelley (2003), historically, substance abuse treatment for
incarcerated women was severely lacking. Many tactics were employed to treat
inmates-diversion treatment programs, private programs outside of prisons, and
coerced treatment (forced by the courts). There are several approaches to drug
and alcohol addition treatment-cognitive therapy (designed to undermine the
dysfunctional belief system), twelve step programs (e.g. AA), acupuncture
(increasing patients relaxation to decrease cravings for drugs and alcohol),
methadone maintenance programs (distribution of methadone to heroin addicts),
case management (individualized treatment based on the need of the inmate),
therapeutic communities (inmates are voluntarily separated from the general
prison population and with the help of prison staff, serve as therapists for one
another). Studies show that therapeutic communities are the most successful
ways to help inmates conquer addiction. Finally, there are post-release programs
emerging that help former inmates stay clean of addiction after release (Kelley,
Family Issues of Incarcerated Women
One of the major obstacles that incarcerated women face is motherhood.
Sharp (2003) discusses the fact that this issue is in the forefront of discussion
because of the increasing rates of incarcerated females. Since incarcerated
women tend to be single parents, their children often do not have another parent
to take care of them during the incarceration. Sharp (2003) cites research
(Sharp and Marcus-Mendoza, 2001; Mumola, 2000) that finds that these
children often live with other family members, such as grandparents while their
mothers are incarcerated. According to other studies (Sharp and Marcus-
Mendoza, 2001; and Belknap, 1996) these children are also often separated
from their siblings (Sharp, 2003).
According the Sharp (2003), incarcerated mothers also face problems
maintaining contact with their children during incarceration, and this tends to
have effects post-release. The three common types of mother-child contact
during incarceration are mail, phone calls, and visits. Sharp cites research
(Mumola, 2000) that finds that about 60% of incarcerated mothers report
weekly contact with their children. According to Mumola (2000), mail is the
most common form of contact. According to Sharp and Marcus-Mendoza
(2000), telephone calls are less frequent because they are expensive. Finally,
visits seem to be the least frequent form of contact. According to Ekstrand et.
al. (1999), more than half of incarcerated women in state prisons report never
having a visit from their children.
According to Sharp (2003), in 1998 more than 1400 children were bom
to incarcerated mothers. She suggests that restraint methods of prisons
compromise the health of the pregnant inmate, as well as the unborn baby.
Sharp (2003) suggests research that finds that incarcerated mothers have
extremely limited contact with their babies once they are bom, and the bonding
process is compromised.
Dailey (2003) focuses on the children of incarcerated mothers. She
conducted a study testing the 89 children of 44 incarcerated mothers in
Montana. She finds that the majority (82 out of 89) children experienced at
least one problem and most of them were experiencing multiple problems. In
many cases, the childrens problems existed before the incarceration of the
mothers. The incarcerated women most commonly reported that their children
had mental health issues. The next most common problem reported was
physical health problems. Almost half of the 89 children were reported to have
chronic health problems. The third most frequent problem exhibited by the
children of incarcerated mothers were behavior problems. Thirty children out
of the 89 were reported to have problems in school, and more than half of the
children were reported to have been receiving some kind of agency intervention
(Dailey, 2003). Clearly, when mothers are incarcerated, their children either
develop problems or the problems they have are exacerbated. It seems that
incarceration of mothers for non-violent offenses creates a multitude of
problems for children that could lead to increased delinquency.
Pre-Release Programming In Womens Prisons
Kelley (2003) discusses and outlines new, innovative s programs that
seem to be working. She lists and describes several programs. For example, the
Stayn Out program, which was originally designed for men, became a model
prison addiction program. This program was found to decrease recidivism rates,
and was increasingly successful as the time spent in the program increased.
Another example cited is called the Dismas Charity, which is a private
residential based therapeutic community that attempts to address all aspects of
the inmates lives, including allowing for on-site supervised visitation of children
while incarcerated. Kelley (2003) argues that because incarceration is more
expensive than drug and alcohol treatment, the focus of the criminal justice
system as it relates to addicted inmates should be to provide treatment for them
instead of punishment (Kelley, 2003).
Lori B. Girshick (2003) provides and analysis of programs intended to
create a smooth transition for the release of the female inmate. Although the
majority of prisons still focus on punishment rather than rehabilitation, there are
still programs that are intended to help the inmate. Girshick (2003) argues that
the criminal justice system serves as a parent, treating an incarcerated woman
like a child. She argues that this is exacerbated by the fact that many women, as
a result of abuse and battering, are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder
while they are incarcerated. These factors, along with many others, make it
very difficult for a woman to negotiate the world after she is released from
prison (Girshick, 2003).
Girshick (2003) argues that women have special needs upon release
from prison-conditions of probation, the need for housing, the need for
employment, familial obligations, addictions, and meeting mental and physical
health care needs. Girshick (2003) believes that a successful program to help
with this transition should include several facets. A needs assessment should be
completed before release to determine what the inmates needs are. The inmate
should be matched up with a case manager to help her plan for these needs. The
programs should be voluntary and have peer support. Every program should
offer parenting skills, job and life skills, and education programs. The program
should address victimization, abuse and addiction. A comprehensive program
would also include help with self-esteem issues for the woman. Finally, there
should be staff outside of the Department of Corrections to help with the
transition after release (Girshick, 2003).
Clearly, rising female incarceration rates are a growing problem.
Factors such as socialization (Bottcher, 2001; Taylor and Esposito, 2003) affect
female crime rates. According to Hoffman (1997) and Steffensmeier and
Haynie (2000), poverty, low socioeconomic status and structural disadvantage
variables had an effect on the rising crime rates of females. Once women are
incarcerated, according to Muraskin (2003), they receive disparate treatment.
Educational and vocational programs are stereotyped to the traditional roles
society expects from women and reinforce those roles (Schram, 2003).
Anderson (2003) points out that adequate health care is not available in prisons
to meet the special health needs of women. Due to the fact that many women
have addiction problems, Kelley (2003) suggests that comprehensive drug
treatment programs be available for all women. Finally, Girshick (2003)
suggests that release programs be available for female prisoners to create a
smooth transition from prison to home.
It is clear that the many social factors that lead to female incarceration
rates should be addressed. Government should take a serious stand against the
abuse of women. When women are abused, they are more likely to become
delinquent. If government would take additional and radical steps to prevent the
abuse of women (e.g. strict, no tolerance laws for domestic violence), the
female delinquency rate would likely decrease. Second, substance abuse and
addiction should be treated as medical problems instead of prosecuted. Many
times, addiction and substance abuse causes criminal behavior and if society
and government would devote resources to treatment, the criminal activity of
addicted women would probably decrease. Most importantly, the immense
poverty that exists for delinquent women should be addressed. The government
should offer services, training, and education for poor women to help them
succeed in society. Once women are incarcerated, they should receive the same
treatment as incarcerated men. Vocational, educational, and training programs
should be available to help the women get the skills they need to succeed upon
release. Adequate medical care should be available to address the special health
needs of women. Comprehensive substance abuse programs should be available
to help address the addiction problem faced by delinquent females. Finally,
comprehensive transition programs should be available to help the women deal
with the obstacles that they will face upon release with employment problems,
housing, family, and parenting. Clearly, although some of these issues are
being addressed, much work still lies ahead to adequately address this social
The preceding literature review discusses the increasing rates of female
incarceration. The review outlines the social causes of the rising female
incarceration rates-abuse, poverty, socialization of women, family issues, and
addiction. While women are incarcerated, they face disparate treatment from
their male counterparts in the areas of health care, drug and alcohol treatment
programs, educational and job training programs, and finally, other programs to
assist the women in their transitions out of prison into society. It is clear that
these factors require study of the previous education attained by incarcerated
women as well as their participation in job training programs.
The purpose of this study is two-fold. First, because of the problematic
social factors discussed in the literature review, it is predicted that a significant
number of these women will have attained less than the full twelve years of
school needed to attain a high school diploma. Second, it is important to study
the relationship between education attained before incarceration and
participation in job training programs. It is expected that higher education levels
attained before incarceration will have a positive association with participation
in job training programs.
Data for this study comes from the Survey of Inmates in State and
Federal Correctional Facilities, 1997. The data in this survey are derived from
two different surveys that both use the same survey, variables, and record
layout. The two surveys used were the Survey of Inmates in State Correctional
Facilities and the Survey of Inmates in Federal Correctional Facilities (the
Federal study was also conducted for the Federal Bureau of Prisons). Both were
conducted for the Bureau of Justice by the Bureau of the Census. The surveys
contain nationally representative data on both State and Federal Inmates.
Interviews conducted with inmates in both State and Federal prisons provided
the data for the following variables: type of offense, criminal history, family
background, personal characteristics, prior drug and alcohol use and treatment
programs, gun possession and use, and prison activities, programs, and services.
The sample for the current study had inmates from 1409 State Prisons
and 127 Federal prisons. The researchers collected the data with a stratified
two-stage selection. The first stage was selecting prisons. The second stage
selected inmates from the sampled prisons. Male and females prisons were
included in both lists, but treated independently in sampling.
The population for the State prisons included 1131 male only prisons.
There were 131 prisons with only female inmates. The sample also included
147 prisons with both male and female inmates. There were a total of 1278
male prisons and 278 female prisons included. The population included a total
of 280 State facilities-220 male prisons and 60 female prisons. In addition to
this sample, 20 facilities were selected for additional interviews to cover prisons
in the original sample that refused to participate.
Of the State prisons selected the 13 largest male prisons and the 17
largest female prisons were selected with certainty. The remaining prisons were
stratified by census region (Northeast except New York, New York, Midwest,
South except Texas, Texas, West except California, and California). Within
each region, prisons were ordered by the following categories-facility type
(confinement or community based), security level (maximum, medium,
minimum, and none), and size of population (ordered from low to high). This
selection process yielded 223 male prisons and 47 female prisons (the selection
process was based on probability proportional to size, the higher the population,
the more likely the facility to be selected). The reserve sample described earlier
included 16 male prisons and 4 female prisons, but data from these facilities
were never used.
The universe for the Federal prison included 105 male facilities, 14
female facilities, and 8 facilities with both sexes totaling 113 male facilities and
22 female facilities. The first stage sample included 32 male facilities and 8
female facilities. There was one male facility and two female facilities selected
with certainty. The remaining make prisons were stratified into 5 security levels
(administrative, high, medium, low, and minimum). The female facilities were
also stratified into 2 security levels (minimum and other including
administrative, high and low). Within each stratum, the prisons were ordered by
size of population (low to high) and also selected proportionately according to
State and Federal facilities were selected within each stratum using a
random start and sampling interval. The sampling interval was calculated using
the number of facilities to be sampled in the stratum. In order to calculate the
number of prisons selected without certainty, the researchers divided the
population of either males or females in the self-reporting prisons. The
sampling interval within each stratum was calculated by dividing the non-self
representing prison population by the desired number of sample prisons. Of the
280 prisons selected, two females facilities closed before the researchers
conducted the interviews and three female facilities refused to participate. All
forty sampled Federal facilities participated in the study.
In the second stage of data collection, the researchers selected inmates to
be interviewed. The sample was selected from a list of all inmates who used a
bed the previous night. The inmates were numerically listed on a list and then
randomly selected using computerized procedures including a randomly
selected starting point and a determined skip interval. The State sample was
12,269 males and 3,116 females. The Federal sample was also pulled using a
central list. The second stage sample was selected using two steps in order to
ensure that the non-drug offenders (41% of males and 32% of females in
Federal facilities) would be included in the samples with enough frequency to
be analyzed. This step yielded on in every three drug offenders selected for the
sample. There were 3,525 males and 954 females sampled. The final sample
resulted in about 1 in every 75 males and 1 in every 17 females being selected
from State facilities and 1 in every 13 males and 1 in every 3 females being
selected from the Federal facilities. For the purposes of this study, data from
females was extrapolated to complete an analysis on female inmates.
The interview given to all of the participants lasted about one hour and
used computer assisted personal interviewing (CAPI). CAPI provided questions
for the interviewer, which included follow-up questions based upon the first
answer. Inmate participants were notified before the survey that their
participation was voluntary and that all information provided would be
confidential. They were assured that their answers would only be used for
statistical purposes and that they would remain anonymous. For the purposes
of this study, only the female data were used.
For this study, two variables were selected to measure education attained
prior to incarceration and the association between this education level and
participation in job training programs. Education level was the independent
variable and participation in job training program was the dependent variable.
To measure education level, the Highest Grade of School Attended
variable was selected from the data set. This variable had a high response rate.
The responses were ordinal and ranged from Never Attended to Two or
More Years of College. The total numbers of responses in these ranges were
3768. There were nine Refused, eight Dont Know and eleven Blank
responses. These responses were recoded as missing to exclude them from
the data analysis.
To measure participation in job training programs, the variable asking if
the inmate had Ever been in any job training program was selected because of
its high response rate. This variable had a total of 3736 responses with only
twelve Refused, five Dont Know, and forty-three Blank responses.
Optimally, a measure of current participation in job training programs would be
measured to determine if the association between education attained affected
participation in job training programs during prison. Although this variable was
available, the response rates were too low to ensure that it is a valid and reliable
measure of current participation in job training programs. Again, the
Refused, Dont Know, and Blank responses on this variables were
recoded as Missing to exclude them from the data analysis.
A histogram was completed on the education variable to determine if
there was a normal distribution in responses of education levels of the inmates.
To understand the relationship between education attained (IV) and
participation in job training programs (DV), a chi square statistical analysis was
employed. Since the level of education attained variable had ordinal responses
that were not equally spaced, a Kendals Tau-B analysis was employed to
measure the strength of the analysis. Eta was employed as another measure of
the strength of the analysis. Typically, eta is used when one variable is nominal
and the other is scale, which is the case in this analysis (Morgan et.al., 2007)
First, frequencies of the variables were run. For the highest grade
attended variable, the mean is 11.09, so on average, the respondents had less
than a high school education as predicted. The median is 11.00, and the mode is
12. The mode is contrary to what was predicted in this study, because it is the
response that occurs most frequently in the analysis. The skewness of this
variable is -.352, which indicates that this is a normal distribution because it is
less than plus or minus one (<+/-l .0). There were a total of 3768 respondents,
with 28 missing (refused, dont, know, and blank) responses. Table 1.3 is
a histogram that shows a normal distribution in responses for this variable.
When the chi-square was run, the results listed the response rates of the
variables. There were a total of 3725 valid responses, totaling 98.1%. There
were a total of 71 missing responses totaling 1.9% (note that the refused,
dont know, and blank responses were removed from the dependent
variable so the missing responses in this table are all from the highest grade
In the Chi Square analysis (Table 5.1), the results were significant-there
is a statistically significant relationship between the variables (x,2=33.426,
fif/'=18,/?=.015). Six cells (15.8%) have an expected count of less than 5. The
minimum expected count is 2.10. This indicates that the assumptions of the Chi
Square have not been violated because the number is less than 20%. The eta
calculation (eta=.095) indicates that the relationship between the variables is
weak, although it is significant.
In the Crosstab calculation the variables were measured to determine if
the results were different than what is expected by chance. As expected,
overall, those who had completed higher grades were more likely to have
participated in a job training program and those who had completed lower level
grades were less likely to have completed a job training program. There were
interesting exceptions to this, those who completed Junior, 1 year, and 2 years
did not have significant yes responses.
With the increased rates in incarceration of women discussed in this
study, it is imperative to understand the social problems these women face in
order to prevent incarceration rates of women from continually increasing.
These women face family and socialization issues early in life that contribute to
the increasing crime and incarceration rates. A greater number of females in
Boettchers (2001) study reported being the victims of abuse, a factor that has
been found to lead to delinquency. It is important that policy makers introduce
and require enforcement of additional legislation that will help to protect
females from abuse. With such a high number of incarcerated females reporting
abuse, it is an important part of preventing female delinquency.
Many incarcerated women have substance abuse problems. They are
more likely to have engaged in illegal drug use and excessive use of alcohol.
From a policy perspective, it is important to institute additional programs
targeted at children to prevent them from becoming substance abusers. Once a
person develops an addiction problem, the criminal justice system should
provide treatment rather than incarceration to these people. It is clear from the
recidivism rates that when an inmate has a substance abuse problem, she is not
likely to learn the skills necessary to overcome her addiction in a prison. It is
important to treat addiction rather than take the punitive approach that
From a strain theory prospective, crime is the result of lack of economic
opportunity in society. Many researchers cited in this study have found that
poverty and economic disentitlement are positively related to crime rates. It is
important that at many levels, opportuntites are available for these women to
reduce their incarceration rates.
Educational opportunity is arguably the most important societal tool that
can be used to equalize women who are at risk for deviance. The public school
systems should have enhanced resources to help economically disadvantaged
children success educationally. Class sizes should be reduced so that teachers
can cater to the special needs of every child. Every child should have equal
opportunity to pursue higher education. Policy makers should advocate and
fund programs that would assist every high school graduate with the application
process and funding of higher education.
In Brewsters (2003) analysis, inmates who earned a GED while
incarcerated were less likely to recidivate. This lends credence to the argument
that increased funding should be available for education programs in prisons.
Education programs for prisoners should be fully funded and available to give
these inmates every opportunity to succeed when they are released. If
Brewsters (2003) results are accurate, investment in education programs for
prisoners will save tax dollars by preventing recidivism.
Brewster (2003) also found that vocational training in prisons had a
positive relationship with recidivism. He speculated that this may be due to the
vocational programming being unmarketable to the inmates when they are
released. Current, cutting-edge vocational programming should be available to
inmates to give them the skills they will need to retain employment and
contribute to society upon release.
Once a woman is incarcerated, education and vocational programs in
jails, prisons, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers should be readily
available and free to every inmate. Participation in these programs should be
mandatory. There should be programs at every level of education, from literacy
to college programs. Vocational programs should be geared toward areas of
high demand in the workforce. If all female inmates had these tools upon
release, recidivism rates would be reduced and costs incurred to re-incarcerate
these inmates would be saved. These women should also have programs
available to make the transition from incarceration to freedom easier. These
programs should include help finding housing, addiction programs, help finding
employment, parenting classes, and additional education programs. If society
gives these women the tools they need to succeed outside of prison while they
are incarcerated, it is much more likely that they will succeed.
The results of this study indicate that the majority of the incarcerated
women had less than a high school education. Furthermore, overall, the women
who completed the lower level grades were less likely to have participated in a
job-training program. The results also indicate that although the relationship is
weak there is a significant relationship between level of education attained at
incarceration and participation in job training programs.
Like the other studies cited in this paper, there is strong evidence to
suggest that incarcerated women have lower levels of education. Although they
are also less likely to have participated in job training programs when they have
lower levels of education, there are interesting exceptions to this. First, women
who had completed their junior year in high school were less likely to have
completed a job-training program. Even more interesting, those who completed
one or two years of college are less likely, which may be the result of these
women feeling that they do not need job training programs with their higher
levels of education. This is a possibility that was not considered at the
beginning of this study.
Assuming that participation in these programs will contribute to the
post-release success of these women, education is an important aspect of the
rehabilitation programs in prisons. Presumably, educating women before they
become delinquent will contribute to prevention of criminal behavior. Once
women are incarcerated, the results of this study indicate that instituting
education programs will enhance the rehabilitation process and make it more
likely that women will participate in job training programs and possibly other
programs that will assist with success post-release.
The results of the study indicate that the funding for incarcerating
women is misallocated. Additional funding should go towards education
programs in prisons and jails to give these women the tools that they need to
succeed when they leave prison. There is vast evidence cited in this study of a
strain theory to explain causes of criminal behavior. It is clear that if these
women are given the tools that they need to come out of poverty, they will be
more likely to become productive members of society and recidivism rates will
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