For Immediate Release: January 15, 2013

Erika Kates, Ph.D., senior research scientist at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW), has released a report addressing unique gender and justice issues as they relate to female offenders in Massachusetts. From 2009 – 2012, Kates and Crystal An, M.A., project assistant, worked with policymakers, advocates, and administrators on three action-oriented research projects that focused on women in prison, examining the impact incarceration can have on a woman’s physical health, emotional wellbeing, family life, and economic stability. These reports have produced a draft bill to establish an awaiting-trial unit for women who are unable to obtain bail in Massachusetts' Middlesex County rather than holding them in MCI-Framingham (state prison) currently at 300 percent capacity. This facility will be closer to the women’s families and lawyers, allowing the women more frequent contact with their children and families. 

The Gender and Justice Report is comprised of six fact sheets that highlight the inequities women face in prison, as well as the broader social and community impact of arresting, detaining, sentencing, supervising, and imprisoning women. The goal of the three action-oriented research projects was to draw attention to these circumstances, highlight women-centered resources, explore alternatives to incarceration for women in Massachusetts, and suggest more cost-effective policies and practices.

"It is important for policy makers and those working in criminal justice and other agencies to understand that a greater focus on alternatives to incarceration for women could provide huge cost savings, address serious inequities experienced by women and their families, and channel them to resources with demonstrated effectiveness,” said Kates. “ Also, it is essential in this era of evidence-based practice that we collect data on women defendants that better informs us about who they are, the options available to them, and the outcomes of those options."   

Kates also recently conducted an interview at WCW during which she addressed alternatives to incarceration for women. The following fact sheets and video summarize Kates’ and An’s research.

Fact Sheets: 

Click here to see the video.

The Wellesley Centers for Women is one of the largest gender-focused research-and-action organizations in the world. Scholars at the Centers conduct social science research and evaluation, develop theory and publications, and implement training and action programs on issues that put women’s lives and women’s concerns at the center. Since 1974, WCW’s work has generated changes in attitudes, practices, and public policy.