This chapter considers how women experience the criminal justice system, explores current understandings about women and their offending and considers research into the most promising approaches to working effectively with women offenders. An ongoing issue for researchers and practitioners is to distinguish between needs which constitute dynamic risk factors specifically related to offending and those which are more a part of the context of that offending and likely to be significant in terms of desistance. Such long-standing issues about services for women offenders are at the heart of this chapter and pose a challenge for practitioners who need to try to respond to diversity while retaining the focus upon risk, especially of reoffending. Also discussed are three broad approaches to research that have emerged from feminist criminology: feminist empiricism, standpoint feminism and feminist post-modernism.
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