Understanding the unique needs and challenges faced by women on probation is crucial for effective rehabilitation and reintegration into society. This discussion explores lessons and guidelines based on Tira Hubbard’s experience implementing a gender-responsive approach to supervision.
Tira is the Deputy Director of the Adult Parole and Probation Department of Jackson County in Southern Oregon and is a regular, national presenter on the topics of trauma and gender-responsive practices for justice-involved women. She has almost three decades of experience in person-centered services working in both non-profit, military, and systems advocacy with victims of domestic and sexual abuse.
Points she emphasized in this presentation include:
- How the criminal justice system was designed for its primary clients – men – and that effectively addressing the unique needs of justice-involved women requires gender-responsive strategies.
- The value in understanding the different pathways women take into the criminal justice system and meeting them where they are to be able to fully help them get out of it.
- The Women’s Risk Needs Assessment (WRNA) as one of the pillars of developing a gender-responsive supervision strategy that accurately identifies women’s pathways, risks, needs, and strengths.
- How the environment can evoke feelings that impact women’s comfort level with their supervising officer and the likelihood for cooperation and success.
- How women tend to focus on relationships and the importance of building rapport and trust, offering choices, and being trauma-informed as part of relational supervision.
- Utilizing communication as a cost-free tool to impact interactions with justice-involved women by managing expectations and boundaries, participating in verbal , expecting feelings throughout interactions, being empowering, curious and collaborative, providing context and consistency, celebrating the small wins, doing warm handoffs and positive reinforcement.
- Self-efficacy: What it is, why it is important to build success, and how to build self-efficacy through gender-responsive curriculums, power sharing, and celebrating strengths.
- The importance of building coping, grounding, decision-making, and problem-solving skills to empower women in different situations they may find themselves in.
- How women on supervision often face substance use issues driven by the need to numb emotions, relational influences, as a form of coping strategies, and to deal with trauma and anxiety.
- Recognizing that many justice-involved women have experienced childhood or adult trauma and the various ways these can manifest as physical symptoms, defiance, and compliance issues.
- Effective ways to respond to trauma in the supervision setting by providing information, using a collaborative approach, offering options, and being mindful of body language.
- Understanding the unique responses of women to violations and leveraging their motivators to promote compliance and reduce the need for custody sanctions.
Points raised during the Q&A are about:
- Whether the LGBTQ community is included in the concept of gender-responsive supervision.
- What universal precautions mean when it comes to trauma.
- Making the case for gender-responsive practices to supervisors.
- Documenting changes and measuring success in probation practices.
- Comparing the WRNA to other gender-neutral risk and needs assessment tools.
- Attributes that make a probation officer more likely to succeed with women-oriented caseload.
- The benefits of designating a dedicated person to handle women-only cases.
Other Webinars with this Speaker
- Nov 10: The Changing Face of Probation: How to Shift to a Trauma-Informed Agency
- March 7, 2023: The Changing Face of Probation: Recipes for Resilience to Survive Corrections Fatigue
- Sept 20, 2023: The Changing Face of Probation: Supervising Justice-Involved Women: The Pathway In and Out of the System (this webinar)
Resources and Handouts
- Handout: Pathway In and Out for Justice-Involved Women – Resources
- Resource Mentioned: Women Risk Needs Assessment
- Resource Mentioned: Bauman Consulting
- Resource Mentioned: Moving On Gender Responsive Programming
- “I’m very grateful for all the helpful information… i.e. women need to feel safe in a comfortable environment/office setting, women are relationship-based, women need more time in conversation, women may need skills like problem-solving/decision making. and the universal rule – assume women have suffered trauma (because they have). thanks so much!” Vince
- “A top-notch presentation/” — Todd
- “These tips can be applied to myself and coworkers, not just clients. — Norma
- “As a new supervising officer, I found this material beneficial. Even though I am female, I haven’t really considered that women need to understand why something is the way it is. Hearing Tira say that really gave me insight in a new way to help my female offenders.” — Tina
- “Really informative webinar” — Stephanie
- “Assurance that I am on the right track with the women I work with.” — Robert
- “I liked the term universal precautions and relating it to female offenders.” — Brooke
- “We are actively looking into developing a gender-responsive caseload or program for our department, so this was so helpful!” — Melinda
- “The information is so useful for working with women in all of our programs whether justice involved or not. Ms. Hubbard did a wonderful job of presenting this. Her knowledge and enthusiasm are exceptional. This was def one of the best, so practical.” — Mary Ellen
- “This is my first time attending a webinar geared for women only so I learned valuable information but also realized I have been using some of the tools mentioned when working with women on my caseload as a Probation Officer. Thank you.” — Lucy
- “My supervisor often comments on the time I take with women for an office report. This helped me validate that it is necessary. Verbal processors. I like that concept. Also the mention of women wanting to share their successes through emailing pictures etc. very true. This helped validate that the way I work with my women is the right way to engage them. Thank you!” — Corin
- “The topic was on point. It makes so much sense all the information. I like working with women, but it never crossed my head the difference between women and men trauma. I loved this webinar—such a piece of resourceful information.” — Fabiola
- “Loved that there finally is acknowledgment and recognition of unique issues in pathways for justice-involved women! Thank you so much for the resources–I will be consulting them. Well-presented. It particularly was relational (yes–I said that!) for me because I am a probation officer, as was Tira. Good topic!” — Barbara