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women to address any of the issues that led to their offending behaviour or chaotic lifestyles. Prison provides a stigma in terms of a criminal record, relationship breakdown and loss of children and partner. (A.15)

All women ex-prisoners have been damaged by being in prison. (A.5)

There’s enormous difficulty in getting local [housing] authorities to take on female ex-prisoners. They’re seen as ‘trouble’. (A.21)

They have to get back and repair all that has been lost. They are labelled as criminal, and the stigma may extend to their children. They have a criminal record, no support, no accommodation. No friends, or maybe friends who don’t want them to change. Why should they stay out of trouble? (A.12)

In this context, there is currently great concern that the Criminal Justice Act 2003 allows for the new sentence of ‘intermittent custody’: It is not only the case that the provisions may lead to some women who would otherwise receive a community sentence receiving intermittent custody (the sentence having been described by policy makers as particularly useful for women offenders) but that the sentence may ‘undo’ resettlement work. The new Intermittent Custody sentence (section 153(2)) allows the courts to impose a custodial sentence that is not served as a continuous custodial period, but rather is interspersed by periods when the offender is released on licence in the community. The court, if it deems fit, may also impose additional licence requirements, which must be fulfilled during the licence period. The intermittent nature of custody may well work against attempts to root the offender in a network of community resources. (Gelsthorpe 2004: 35)

Given the damage done by each re-entry to prison, it is extraordinarily difficult to see how such a sentence can benefit anybody.

Sub hypothesis 4.2: Women who have been in prison find it more difficult to get employment. Hypothesis sustained.

Employment?! Well, that’s way down the list. I’m not saying employment is not important. If she finds work then it’s a surest sign that she won’t return. But, without the other things in place, how can you get or keep a job? (A.1)

All the ex-prisoners we interviewed had taken some courses in prison. Several of them had taken many different courses during different sentences. Yet, not one said that they thought the courses would help them to get a job. The main reason for all of them was that, regardless of whether they had worked before, and regardless of how ‘good’ they thought the in-prison course had been, they didn’t have either the confidence or the motivation to make job applications. Four of the ex-prisoners had jobs at the time of interview (including the two women recently released after serving life sentences) but all the others gave reasons for deferring looking for work until other problems had been

effectively addressed. I want to keep busy, but I can’t get work because of my drugs and criminal record. (XP4)

I’ve been too depressed to apply for work since I came out of prison. I can’t get motivated. (X.15)

I’m still fairly raw from coming out [three months earlier]. I’m not ready for paid employment. (XP3)

I would like to work but I can’t until I’ve got some better housing. (XP 14)


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