Gender Matters: Bringing Gender-Responsive Strategies to Women in Drug Courts

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Emily Salisbury
Anna Parisi


A substantial body of scholarship has demonstrated gender differences in the context and development of women’s substance use and criminal behavior. In response, the correctional field has increasingly recognized that a “one-size-fits-all” approach is insufficient to address women’s unique needs in treatment. At the same time, research evidence shows that women graduate from drug courts at rates far lower than men, highlighting an opportunity to adopt well-established, empirically supported gender-responsive principles among drug court settings. These guiding principles are designed to acknowledge the gendered context of women’s lives and how this context influences their pathways in and out of the criminal justice system. Although gender-responsive services have been shown to effectively reduce women’s rates of recidivism and future substance use across multiple criminal justice settings, most drug court treatment programs continue to provide the same treatment to men and women regardless of gender. Here, we provide recommendations for how drug court programs can implement gender-responsive principles in order to improve treatment outcomes among system-impacted women. 


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How to Cite
Salisbury, E., & Anna Parisi. (2022). Gender Matters: Bringing Gender-Responsive Strategies to Women in Drug Courts. Drug Court Review, 22–34.
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