Women still represent a minority of the criminal justice population, however, the number of females committing (violent) offenses has increased steadily over the past decades. There are growing concerns about whether the knowledge we have on, for instance, risk assessment and intervention programs in justice-involved males is sufficiently valid and suitable for justice-involved females. Research has demonstrated substantial differences between justice-involved females and males relating to trauma, offense history and mental health needs. However, not many gender-responsive programs are currently available in criminal justice settings.
In 2012, a multicentre project started in the Netherlands with the aim to gain more insight into the background of women admitted to forensic mental health care. This project yielded several studies, for example, into gender differences in offending behavior, trauma history, psychopathology, and recidivism and into the predictive value of risk assessment tools. More recently, we developed practical guidelines for treating women in forensic mental health care based on the results from this multicentre project, the literature into gender-responsive working and a qualitative study into experiences of both practitioners and forensic psychiatric patients. The result includes guidelines for gender-responsive and trauma-informed working, gender-sensitive risk assessment, policies in gender-mixed forensic settings and attention for transgender persons. In this presentation, I will discuss the need for gender-responsive approaches based on the results from these two projects, and I will also present a clinical case example from a gender-mixed setting to illustrate challenges in daily practice