Cristina Ayala

PhD Student


Working Title of PhD: Comparison of reintegration and resettlement interventions for female ex-members of Colombian paramilitary groups and women in the criminal justice system in Scotland, including the role of communities in these initiatives

Year commenced PhD study: 2014
Institution/Organisation: University of Edinburgh/ Lothian and Borders Community Justice Authority
Funding Source: L&B CJA
Full or part-time: Part-time
PhD Supervisors: Richard Sparks, Sharon Cowan.

Synopsis: Despite the growing number of women in the Scottish criminal justice system few programmes are specifically geared towards their needs. Risk management has tended to dominate rehabilitation policy and new gender-specific approaches are needed to identify distinctive circumstances of female offenders, explore alternatives to custodial sentences and enhance existing services. The experience of female offenders in Scotland pales into comparison with that of women who form 50% of combatants in Colombia’s conflict between guerrilla and right-wing paramilitary groups, financed through criminal activities. Government demobilisation schemes have concentrated on reducing combatant numbers rather than psychological, social and economic problems of ex-guerrillas. Although the Colombian situation represents an extreme manifestation of the problem, certain parallels could be drawn with Scotland and provide radical new solutions for female rehabilitation here. Colombian reintegration programmes involve ex-combatants and host communities and roles of the latter should also be considered in re-integration of Scottish offenders.  I will examine female reintegration initiatives in Scotland and Colombia, particularly: (a) special needs of ex-guerrillas; (b) how their experience compares with that of Scottish female offenders; (c) desire for rehabilitation; (d) desistance motives; (e) possible adaptation of Colombian interventions to Scottish situations/vice-versa; (f) host community viewpoints; (g) reducing community-offender conflict. I will use a three-stage qualitative approach involving primary data collection in communities of Colombia and Scotland affected by paramilitary activity or crime respectively, through: (a) initial contact with subjects to develop trust and refine interview questions; (b) stakeholder SSIs and FGDs; (c) monitoring individual progress to construct case histories.

Keywords: Women, rehabilitation, interventions




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