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An Examination of Gender-neutral and Gender-responsive Characteristics on Program Participation among Female State Prisoners

McCall, Janice (2016) An Examination of Gender-neutral and Gender-responsive Characteristics on Program Participation among Female State Prisoners. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Prisons remain one of the social service agencies of last resort for women. Female prisoners are often disproportionately women of color, who are survivors of physical and/or sexual abuse as children and adults, with significant substance abuse problems, mental health problems, and low attainment of educational, vocational, and employment success, and with fragmented family histories including intergenerational involvement with the criminal justice system. However, understanding how these gendered characteristics are associated with prison program participation remains unclear as there is a lack of emphasis on the factors that help explain prisoners’ patterns of participation in prison programs. Understanding factors that are associated with participation in prison programs is important as some programs have been associated with recidivism reduction.

This dissertation examined the characteristics associated with prison program participation among female prisoners. It used codified interview data from state inmates in the 2004 Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities. Hierarchical logistic regressions were used to evaluate the odds that a female prisoner had participated in a prison program given her pattern of response to questions about her demographics, static (unchanging) and dynamic (malleable) criminogenic characteristics, gender-responsive characteristics, and intergenerational characteristics. Hierarchical logistic regressions were performed on participation on seven types of prison programs (religious, visitation, vocational/educational, self-help, prerelease, drug and alcohol, mental health).

This study found that for females’ participation in prison programs, 7% of the change in variance for religious program participation, 8% of the change in variance for visitation program participation, 22% of the change in variance for vocational/ educational program participation, 12.5% of the change in variance for self-help program participation, 14% of the change in variance for prerelease program participation, 8% of the change in variance for drug and alcohol program participation, and 22% of the change in variance for mental health program participation was explained when factoring in a set of characteristics among the female prisoners. These effect sizes offer meaningful discussion on the significance of gender-responsivity, the importance of strength-orientation, and the tailoring of programs within the prison to account for the heightened needs often presented by female prisoners.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
McCall, Janicemccall.janice@pitt.eduJAM307
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairYamatani,
Committee MemberTang,
Committee MemberWallace,
Committee MemberHarris,
Date: 28 April 2016
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 21 April 2016
Approval Date: 28 April 2016
Submission Date: 28 April 2016
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 160
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Social Work > Social Work
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: female prisoners, prison programs, gender responsivity, reentry, recidivism
Date Deposited: 28 Apr 2016 16:27
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:33


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