Globally, for the past decade there has been continuous growth of body of research on women in prisons with USA setting the pace. The studies have gained insights on female pathways to prison (see Collica-Cox, 2018; Bloom, Owen & Covington, 2005) necessitating the development and implementation of programs that are gender responsive to specific needs of women offenders. Such programs are those that address issues that may hinder rehabilitative success and eventually the reintegration of the women back to the society. Ineffective rehabilitation of women offenders remains one of society’s concerns all over the world today, Kenya included. However, few studies had examined women offenders in Kenya and a little extent the rehabilitation programs that address their psychological needs. The study sought to determine the effectiveness of rehabilitation programs in addressing the psychological needs of the women prisoners in Kenya. The relational rheory of women’s psychological development and the Risk- Needs-Responsivity (RNR) model for offender rehabilitation were used to inform the study. The study adopted a cross-sectional descriptive research design, employing a mixed concurrent triangulation method of data collection. The target population included all convicted women prisoners within the 17 correctional facilities of women prisoners in Kenya with a minimum of class 8 education level. Purposive and simple random sampling techniques were used to select 350 study participants. Quantitative data was gathered through use of questionnaire while qualitative data were collected from focus group discussions (FGD) guide and interview schedules. Quantitative data collected was analyzed using descriptive statistics and presented in form of frequencies, means and standard deviations. Textual thematic analysis was done for qualitative data from FGDs and interview schedules. The study revealed that majority of women offenders in Kenya associated their criminal behaviors with psychological needs such as: histories of physical abuse- 46.8% in childhood and 51.3% in adulthood; 78.95% scored on posttraumatic stress disorder while parental distress was highly indicated with 62.6% having financial constraints to provide basic needs for their children, and 87% were constantly worried of their children’s future. The study established that there are few underdeveloped rehabilitation programs targeting psychological needs, with most programs focused on economic empowerment of offenders. The study finding led to a conclusion that the rehabilitation programs within the Kenyan women prison are not effectively addressing women offenders’ unique psychological needs contributing to their criminal behaviors. This is due to lack of gender responsive programming, lack of in- depth research on women and crime in Kenya, lack of curriculum training on gender responsive treatment to the wardresses and lack of proper planning and management of available funds both from the government and income generating from the prisons’ projects. The study notes as important the introduction of alternative rehabilitative practices for less risky and petty offenders to decongest the prisons. The study further recommends contextual researches on women and crime that would lead to the development and implementation of gender-responsive programs in women’s correctional facilities in Kenya. The study contributes to knowledge gap by providing useful information that the prisons department and stakeholders may use to improve policy and rehabilitation practices for rehabilitation of women prisoners in Kenya.
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
Background to the Study
Empirical evidence shows that over the past two decades there has been a lot of global public policy debate on rehabilitation of offenders and its effectiveness (Cullen & Gendreau, 2002). Some scholars believe that for offenders to reform and be effectively re-integrated into the society they must be rehabilitated through meaningful programs that addresses their needs (Morita, 2013). Such programs must provide the person necessary conditions to lead better lives than simply teach them how to minimize their chances of being incarcerated (Ward & Stewart, 2003).
The need for effective rehabilitation emanates from global concerns over the growing numbers of prison population. Moreover, the current indications are that female prison population levels have not only grown sharply; they have grown much faster than male prison population levels. The world prison population is estimated to have increased by over 20 percent since 2000, compared to over 50 percent increase in the overall number of imprisoned women (Institute for Criminal Policy Research, 2018) (ICPR). The report further note that increases have been greater than the growth in national population levels in all continents except in Africa where the rise in the female prison population was only half as the increase in the population of the continent. This is attributed not only to the high rates of new crime but also to the high rates of recidivism (ICPR, 2018; National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2014) (NIDA).
Similarly, female imprisonment has caused more worry particularly at the faster growth rate surpassing that of male prison population (ICPR, 2015). The ICPR, (2018)
shows that there were over 700,000 women held in penal institutions throughout the world, either as remand prisoners or having been convicted or sentenced in 2017. Reporting for the Prisons Policy Initiative 2019, Sawyer and Wagner (2019) noted that of all the women incarcerated globally, the United States of America had the highest number of female inmates under correctional supervision in 2017 totaling to 219,000. These were both convicted and non-convicted women prisoners held in local jails, federal prisons and state prisons. According to the above report, 103, 766 plus unknown number in pre-trial or administrative detention were in China. The next highest were in Russian Federation (53,304), Thailand (44,751), Brazil (37,380), Vietnam (20,553), India (18,
188) and Mexico (13, 400). The report gave a considerable variation in the proportion of the national population. Americas’ median level being more than four times as high and Asia three times as high. The report indicated that the total prison population is lowest in African countries where the median level is 2.5 percent per 100, 000 of the national population.
However, the report indicates that although the statistics of offenders are low in Africa, the trend on the steady increase in men and women being incarcerated within the region remains a concern for governments and the society as a whole. A situation perhaps as explained in (Msath, 2013) may be blamed on erosion or decay of African moral values especially among the youth. Moreover, moral deterioration and values are further blamed on factors such as, genetic inheritance of a difficult temperament; ineffective parenting; and living in a neighborhood where violence is a norm (Santrock, 2005); poverty, lack of education, family background, and drug abuse (Miriti & Kimani, 2017); media, culture and technology (Kumar, 2010; Rwechungura, Olotu, Mathias, Minja &
Goodluck, 2010). It is therefore important that society addresses the concern on moral decay and effective ways be sought by the criminal justice system during rehabilitation of offenders in addressing factors associated with an individual’s criminal behavior.
According to (NIDA, 2018), although female offenders total prisons population in Africa is lower, there are concerns particularly on the continuously increasing numbers being incarcerated. While acknowledging that the numbers of female offenders fluctuates and therefore figures in records only give an indication of the trend but inevitably an incomplete picture, the (ICPR, 2018) showed an increase of number of convicted female prisoners in Kenya from 2,081 in 2009 to 3,762 in 2016. This reflected an almost 3 percent increase in the total number female prison population in Kenya. The report further confirms the reason for an in-depth focus on studies on women and crime and the importance for corrections to determine and address the unique needs of women that contribute to their criminality.
Pioneer scholars in the field of modern correctional policy (Andrews & Bonta, 2003) believed that offending behaviors were caused by social factors, specifically illiteracy, poverty and unemployment. However, contemporary feminist psychologists working in correctional facilities include factors such as dysfunctional relationships, trauma and victimization, parental distress, low self- esteem and efficacy as major contributing factors in offending behaviors in women.
Arguing that male and female offenders have different pathways to criminality, Holtfreter and Morash (2008) observed that unless appropriate gender-specific programs, acknowledging the psychological development of women are incorporated in their rehabilitation, female offenders will remain prone to re-offending and re-incarceration.