Gendered Pathways, Women's Imprisonment, and Gender-Responsive Correctional Practices

Much of my research is focused on women's pathways, supervision, and treatment. The gendered pathways perspective accounts for the distinct biological, psychological, and social realities of women relevant to their involvement in the criminal justice system. Since 1970, women's imprisonment rates domestically and internationally have increased by over 700% and 50% higher than men's incarceration. Nonetheless, most approaches in correctional are "generalized," but do not account for women's distinct treatment needs.

 

I conduct research on women's pathways, women's imprisonment, and gender-responsive correctional strategies, including assessment and treatment. I train correctional agencies on gender-responsive approaches for women. I am also a certified trainer of the Women's Risk Needs Assessment, a women-centered actuarial assessment. Trauma-informed care and treatment are especially important for women as the majority have histories of physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse. My dissertation, chaired by Dr. Emily Salisbury (University of Utah), used in-depth interviews and focus groups with women under community supervision in Oregon to examine women's pathways and their experiences under correctional supervision. 

Stemming from my dissertation research, Cassandra Boyer (Doctoral Student, University of Nevada, Las Vegas) and I assessed women's responses to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) using qualitative interviews and focus groups. We found that on average women in the sample had experienced seven different types of ACEs. The most common response to ACEs was substance use to cope with trauma. Here is a sample quote by participant Scarlet (pseudonym):

“When I was about six or seven, my mom remarried. He abused us girls in every sense of the word for a couple years. He really committed the worst abuse when any of us were left alone. [I use because of] my childhood... I don't like feeling lows in my emotions. I use not to feel... I wanted to be numb... I would say that my childhood, out of everything we talked about, had the most impact on [my system-involvement].”

 

An Intersectional Lens

A major area of my research is centered around women's intersectional experiences and how they relate to system-involvement. Few studies disaggregated women's imprisonment rates by race. Using prison admissions data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and other state-level secondary data for control variables, Dr. Mark Harmon (Portland State University) and I found that Black women are the faster subpopulation of those incarcerated. It is the incarceration of Black women for drug and property offenses that have largely driven the increase in women's incarceration. Various Get-Tough reforms also impacted racial disparities. This research was completed as part of my master's project. 

I advocate for intersectionally-responsive correctional strategies, which "recognize the interaction between gender, race, and other categories of difference that often impact persons' initial involvement in the criminal justice system, experiences on supervision and in treatment programming, as well as reentry in the community." My early work in this area was awarded the American Society of Criminology Division on Women and Crime Graduate Student Paper Award in 2016. I now train and work collaboratively with correctional agencies to implement diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. I recently was awarded an internal grant to study the initial impacts of a DEI on client outcomes with a local substance abuse program for women under correctional supervision. My future research will further examine women's pathways across intersectional distinctions and test risk/needs assessments for predictive validity across gender and race. 

Funding:

2019 - University Research/Creative Projects Award, Wichita State University: $4,500

2018 -  President's Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, University of Nevada, Las Vegas: $25,000

2018 - Summer Doctoral Research Fellowship, University of Nevada, Las Vegas: $7,000

2018 - Research Funding Sponsorship, University of Nevada, Las Vegas: $600

Publications:

 

Boppre, B. (2019). Improving Correctional Strategies for Women at the Margins: Recommendations for an Intersectionally-Responsive Approach. Corrections: Policy, Practice, and Research, 4, 195-221.

Boppre, B., & Boyer, C. (In press). “The Traps Started during my Childhood”: The Role of Substance Abuse in Women’s Responses to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma.

Boppre, B., & Harmon, M. G. (2017). The Unintended Consequences of Sentencing Reforms: Using Social Chain Theory to Examine Racial Disparities in Female Imprisonment. The Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, 15, 394-423.

Boppre, B., Miethe, T. D., Troshynski, E. I., & Salisbury, E. J. (In press). Cross-National Differences in Women’s Imprisonment Rates: Exploring the Conditional Effects of Gender Inequality and Other Macro-Level Factors. International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice.

Harmon, M. G., & Boppre, B. (2016). Women of Color and the War on Crime: An Explanation for the Rise in Female Black Imprisonment. The Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, 16, 1-24.

Boppre, B. Intersectionality in Correctional Contexts: Implications for Women under Correctional Supervision. (In press). In C. M. Coates & M. Walker-Pickett, (Eds.), Women and Minorities in Criminal Justice: An Intersectionality Approach. Dubuque, IA: Kedall Hunt.

Salisbury, E. J., Kalantry, S., Boppre, B., Brundige, E., & Martínez, S. (2018). Expanding the Feminist Pathways Perspective Beyond the United States: A Profile of Federal Women Prisoners in Argentina. Women & Criminal Justice, 28, 125-151.

Reed, S., & Boppre, B. (In press). Considering Boys and Men in the Feminist Pathways Perspective. In L. Carter, C. Blankenship, and C. Marcum (Eds.), Punishing Gender Past and Present: Examining the Criminal Justice System Across Gendered Experiences. San Diego, CA: Cognella.

Kelly, B., & Boppre, B. (2019). Criminal Risk Assessment, Gender-Responsive. In R. Morgan (Ed.), The Sage Encyclopedia of Criminal Psychology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Boppre, B., Salisbury, E. J., & Parker, J. (2018). Pathways to Crime. In H. Pontell and K. Holtfreter (Eds.), Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Salisbury, E. J., Boppre, B., & Kelly, B. (2016). Gender-Responsive Risk and Need Assessment: Implications for the Treatment of Justice-Involved Women. In F. Taxman (Ed.), Division on Corrections and Sentencing, Volume 1, Handbook on Risk and Need Assessment: Theory and Practice (p. 220-243). London: Taylor and Francis/Routledge 

Boppre, B., & Salisbury, E. J. (2016). The Women’s Risk Needs Assessment (WRNA): Putting Gender at the Forefront of Actuarial Risk Assessment. Blog. Penal Reform International.

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