Effectiveness of Offender Rehabilitation Programmes in Addressing the Psychological Needs of Women Offenders Within the Prisons in Kenya
Ondeng, Achieng Mary Jacinta
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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.