Student Research Projects

An Investigation of the Rehabilitation Needs of Women Incarcerated in a Mid-Atlantic Prison

Student Holly A. Phaneuf, & Jason D. Silvia
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Psychology


Female offenders are often incarcerated in facilities designed for the treatment and rehabilitation needs of men. However, research suggests female offenders differ from male offenders on many factors relevant to rehabilitation and treatment planning, including type of offense committed (Hay & Sterling 1998), history of trauma and abuse (Daley & Argeriou, 1997), prevalence of mental illness (Clark, 2002), and parental status (Karfgin, 2002). Without gender-specific correctional treatment and rehabilitation programs, female offenders are likely to be released into the community with the same, or worse, psychosocial deficits as before incarceration, leaving them at-risk to re-offend and return to correctional custody. Therefore, this research aimed to understand the correctional needs of female offenders, in order to inform the development of gender-specific correctional programs and policies. Adult female inmates participated by completing two self-report measures designed to assess one’s history of traumatic experiences and subsequent psychological needs (i.e., needs for safety, esteem, trust, intimacy, and control). Exploratory descriptive statistics were calculated and findings are discussed, outlining potential hypotheses to test in future studies. Participants also took part in qualitative interviews, in which they discussed issues relevant to treatment and rehabilitation needs. Analysis of qualitative interview data involved deconstructing narratives into core themes.


Angela K. Fournier, Mary Ellen Hughes, Holly A. Phaneuf, & Jason D. Silvia. 2007. An Investigation of the Rehabilitation Needs of Women Incarcerated in a Mid-Atlantic Prison. Paper presented to the American Society on Criminology, Atlanta, Georgia, November 15th 2007