Imagining penal policy for women: the case for women's community services

Document type
Working Paper
Radcliffe, Polly; Hunter, Gillian
Howard League for Penal Reform
Date of publication
1 May 2014
What is justice? Working papers; 4/2014
Resettlement, Offenders, Criminal Justice Services
Social welfare
Material type

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The Women’s Community Services (WCSs) established in 2009 in England and Wales were based on the model of one-stop-shop, women-only provision endorsed by the 2007 Corston report. This paper discusses the development of WCSs as part of a governmental/voluntary sector initiative that was arguably an attempt to re-imagine penal policy for women offenders in the community, and explores themes emerging from interviews carried out with 30 women attending six WCSs between April 2011–2012. It argues that WCSs have filled a gap in provision for low risk women offenders by providing a range of social capital opportunities that are not available in mainstream, mixed-gender community punishment provision. It highlights the gendered processes of desistance; the understanding of which is vital in making provision for women offenders in the new contracting landscape.

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