Probation and parole officers are trained to use incarceration as a swift and certain intervention to ‘correct’ offender behaviour. However, incarceration itself may exacerbate post-traumatic stress (Kubiak, 2004; Messina et al., 2014; Moloney et al., 2009). A recent national study revealed the experience of incarceration increased the likelihood of meeting diagnostic criteria for lifetime PTSD even when controlling for similar trauma exposure and demographic characteristics (Anderson et al., 2016). Thus, current study findings regarding the association between recent incarceration and PTSD diagnosis suggests strongly that even minimally short incarcerations may exacerbate women’s symptoms and therefore, their ability to meet supervision expectations. The embrace of alternative, non-carceral consequences such as community service may thus be more appropriate. However, findings from a feasibility study of women in need diversion point to the critical requirement of investing in a robust community of both social and legal services so that incarceration alternatives become viable options (McCoy and Russo, 2018). Further research exploring and evaluating alternative sanctions for women with victimization histories who violate the conditions of their probation or parole—especially those using drugs to cope with trauma—is also warranted.
Posted on by Kelly Smith