A Qualitative Comparison of Battered Women’s Perceptions of Service Needs and Barriers Across Correctional and Shelter Contexts


This study explores the confluence of victimization and incarceration to contribute to the understanding of battered women’s experience of the criminal justice system. Building on previous qualitative research investigating pathways to incarceration for battered women, this study utilizes qualitative data from 10 focus-group interviews to investigate and compare battered women’s experiences with victimization, help-seeking, and perceptions of incarceration across four different site types: jails, prisons, shelters, and post-release support groups. The study makes comparisons across these sites and identifies site-specific service needs and perceived barriers to meeting these needs. These data also reveal three ways battered women perceive incarceration to operate with respect to their service needs: as a symbolic barrier, as a potential opportunity, and as a structural barrier. The association of these divergent perspectives on incarceration with specific locations in the criminal justice system and the implications for targeted interventions based on these findings are discussed.

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Published in Criminal Justice and Behavior, v.. 41, no. 7, p. 844-861.

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