Conflicting agendas : evaluating feminist programmes for women offenders
This thesis is concerned with the central rationale of feminism, and thus of feminist perspectives in criminology, to bring about change for women subject to the criminal justice system. It argues that any attempt to influence that system, to bring about change or reform, must be considered within the broader context of policy-making and programme development and their underlying assumptions and purposes, as well as in relation to specific contextually located histories. It does so by tracing the history of a particular feminist initiative in Canada - a community-based programme in Nova Scotia which offered feminist therapy and counselling to women in conflict with the law. It traces the processes of funding and evaluation for the federal government, and the differential experiences of the project and its clients, the researchers, and the funders. In so doing it considers the role of policy and programme development and of feminist attempts to reform and their failure to impact the lives of sentenced women; it examines the development of feminist methodology and contrasts it with mainstream correctional methodology and evaluation; it explores the development of feminist intervention and some of the problems inherent in such approaches and their appropriateness for women in the correctional system; and it examines the difficulties encountered in evaluating a feminist initiative. The views of the project and of its women clients are explored to assess the impact of the intervention, its benefits for the women, as well as its limitations. This analysis shows how the project, while successful in avoiding many of the problems of feminist intervention, was unable to sustain itself beyond the period of federal funding, while the evaluation itself proved to be a difficult process. The discrepancies between feminist ways of working and the dominant correctional models, the assumptions underlying programme development and evaluation, and the limitations of that approach are revealed as a series of over-lapping layers which impact on feminist endeavours.