More should be done for female parolees

More should be done to help female parolees stay out of trouble, particularly in urban areas, suggests a Michigan State University study. Credit: Michigan State University

As the female prison population grows, a new study funded partly by the National Science Foundation says more should be done to help women probationers and parolees in poor urban areas remain crime-free.

A team of Michigan State University criminologists found black women on probation and parole feel they have little choice but to isolate themselves in their homes or risk getting caught up in the type of that got them in trouble in the first place.

Probation and parole officers, case managers and others should help the women find housing in safer areas and provide access to resources to help them stay clean, sober and stable. That could be something as simple as transportation to a mental health or substance abuse treatment meeting, said Jennifer Cobbina, lead author on the study and assistant professor of criminal justice.

On a larger scale, it means reinvesting in low-income communities and confronting discriminatory housing policies and other barriers to living in positive environments faced by racial minorities, she said.

"Women offenders living in communities where they are socially isolated and economically disadvantaged face incredible difficulties in staying clean, sober and crime-free," Cobbina said.

The female in the United States spiked 646 percent from 1980 to 2010, driven largely by drug offenses. By 2010, there were 112,000 women in state and federal prison, which represented 7 percent of the prison population – up from 4 percent in 1980.

Blacks are six times more likely than whites to return to prison and seven times more likely to return to custody for breaking parole, Cobbina said.

The researchers surveyed more than 400 women on probation and parole for felony convictions in Michigan. They found were more likely to live in crime-ridden urban areas and as a result isolate themselves to the point of avoiding relatives.

"They wanted to stay away from everyone because they felt like if they let their guard down and associated with others, it increased their likelihood of getting in trouble with the law," Cobbina said.

But isolation limits the 's ability to participate fully in public life and decreases the chances they can engage in positive relationships and networks, Cobbina said.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Does solitary confinement fuel more crime?

Feb 25, 2014

Solitary confinement does not make supermax prison inmates more likely to re-offend once they're released, finds a study on the controversial penitentiaries led by a Michigan State University criminologist.

Prison misconduct findings shed light on crowding problem

Feb 06, 2012

UT Dallas criminologist Dr. Robert Morris and doctoral student Erin Orrick won the 2012 William Simon/Anderson Publishing Outstanding Paper award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences for their article that shows ...

Recommended for you

Jamaica Senate starts debate on pot decriminalization bill

Jan 30, 2015

Jamaica's Senate on Friday started debating a bill that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of pot and establish a licensing agency to regulate a lawful medical marijuana industry on the island where the drug ...

Can Lean Management improve hospitals?

Jan 30, 2015

Waiting times in hospital emergency departments could be cut with the introduction of Lean Management and Six Sigma techniques according to new research.

Research finds 90 percent of home chefs contaminate food

Jan 30, 2015

If you're gearing up for a big Super Bowl bash, you might want to consult the best food-handling practices before preparing that feast. New research from Kansas State University finds that most home chefs drop the ball on ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.