Leaving custody behind: Foundations for safer communities and gender-informed criminal justice systems
This Issues Paper draws together evidence about women’s involvement in the criminal justice system and the factors behind the escalating female imprisonment rate in Victoria. It highlights the disproportionate harm caused by the incarceration of women and the urgent need to find alternatives that better meet human rights standards.
‘Leaving custody behind’ draws on a growing body of knowledge to explore the many challenges faced by women in a system designed primarily to respond to male offending. It proposes a suite of wide-ranging ‘options for change’ that provide opportunities to halt the damaging cycling of women through our prisons and to address the reasons why women come into contact with police, courts and prisons.
The CIJ consulted frontline services working with women involved in Victoria’s criminal justice system – agencies providing legal, court, housing, substance use, family violence, mental health and counselling support services to incarcerated women, and those at risk of incarceration. Their practice wisdom is combined with findings from research and reviews conducted over the last 15 years, to shed further light on unique risk factors associated with women’s offending; their different experience of the justice system; and the impact of imprisonment on women, their children and the wider community.