McIvor, G., Trotter, C. and Sheehan, C. (2009), Women, resettlement and desistance. Probation Journal 56(4): 347–361.
With the numbers of women imprisoned increasing across Western jurisdictions over the last 15 or so years, so too have the numbers of women returning to the community following a period in custody. Despite increasing policy attention in the UK and elsewhere to prisoner resettlement, women’s experiences on release from prison have received limited empirical and policy attention. Drawing upon interviews with women leaving prison in Victoria, Australia, this article discusses the resettlement challenges faced by the women and highlights their similarity to the experiences of women leaving prison in other jurisdictions. Women had mixed (and predominantly negative) experiences and views of accessing services and supports following release, though experiences of parole supervision by community corrections officers were often positive, especially if women felt valued and supported by workers who demonstrated genuine concern. Analysis of factors associated with further offending and with desistance, points to the critical role of flexible, tailored and women-centred post-release support building, and, where possible, upon relationships established with women while they are still in prison.