Tarisha Settles found herself moving in and out of the criminal justice system, a cycle fueled by her substance abuse. Like many justice-involved women throughout the nation, Ms. Settles is a mother. Although the vast majority of people involved in the criminal justice system are men, Ms. Settles was among the rising tide of women who have been incarcerated or subject to community supervision since the 1980s. Despite the 14-fold increase in the number of justice-involved women over the past four decades, much of the programming and interventions in the field remain focus towards men. Women are often left to navigate a system that was not built with them in mind and unprepared to address all their needs.
In September 2010, CSOSA launched our women’s teams to provide gender-responsive supervision services and address the challenges facing women under supervision. In furtherance of our mission, CSOSA’s approach to community supervision requires us to consider the whole person when creating and implementing an individualized supervision plan. Our community supervision officers consider a person’s criminogenic and stabilization needs. Our programming is designed to address a person’s criminogenic needs, which are directly related to criminality, such as substance use, anti-social associations and attitudes, and lack of achievement. We build strong relationships with other agencies and community partners to address the stabilization needs of the people we supervise. Stabilization needs are the non-criminogenic factors that may hinder the effectiveness of supervision programming if left unaddressed, such as unstable housing, untreated mental health issues, unemployment, and lack of education. Although some of these needs are common among many justice-involved individuals, some are more specific to women involved in the criminal justice system or present differently than in their male counterparts.
According to the Council of State Governments Justice Center, “[g]ender-responsive and trauma-informed policies, practices, and programs recognize that women have distinct histories, pathways to offending, and experiences in the criminal justice system. These approaches address issues that may contribute to women’s involvement in the justice system, such as domestic violence, abuse, and victimization; family and relationships; trauma; and poverty, mental illnesses, and substance use disorders.”
Ms. Settles experienced supervision before and after our gender-responsive approach was implemented. Watch the video to learn more about her story and experience.