Women with criminal background narrating re-entry to the society

Dr Ulla Salovaara1

1University Of Jyvaskyla, Jyväskylä, Finland

In Finland about eight percent of prisoners are women. The pathways in and out of crime differ between the genders. Women narrate about their past when living in traumatic and violent intimate relationships. Substance abuse also often plays a crucial role in criminal life-course. Recent studies have shown that supportive relationships and social bonds have significant influence in female desistance. Thus, it is important to understand it in its social and cultural context.

This paper focuses on narratives of re-entry, desistance and how women are describing different meanings of help and support. The data consist of interviews with 25 women who either were in prison at the time or recently released from prison. Findings will be presented on how women narrate their pathways out of crime and substance use. The focus is in how women with criminal background talk about the re-entry to the society, desistance and the meanings they give to it. I also focus on how they ascribe to their actions. The findings show the complexity and diversity of their desisting and the need for support, which is crucial for the successful re-entry into the society. The women would need at least three kinds of support. The most crucial is the rehabilitation from the substance use, but they would also need assistance in housing and financial matters, including debt counselling. Women need also help operating with authorities working as a gate-keepers to the services women need.


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