Women in prison
Women make up about 4.3 per cent of prison populations worldwide (Walmsley 2006). Most research has therefore focused on men, the majority population. However, it is precisely this minority status and marginalisation that increases the need to recognise women in prison as a distinct group with distinctive needs. A consistent picture of poverty, deprivation, victimisation and marginalisation makes up the basis of every female custodial population studied in every jurisdiction. The ‘career’ criminals and thrill-seekers common among male prisoners are virtually absent in women’s prison, replaced instead by people in custody often through desperate circumstances or lives so chaotic that they fail to comply with community penalties or bail.