chapter  4
10 Pages

Women, Health and Prisons in Australia

WithJudy Parker, Debbie Kilroy, Jonathan Hirst

In the Western world the prison epitomizes the custodial power of the state in relation to control and punishment. This chapter draws upon relevant data to examine the physical, mental and psychosocial characteristics of women in Australian prisons as well as the economic and social circumstances that contributed to their incarceration. These characteristics and circumstances suggest a need for greater emphasis on care, treatment and rehabilitation within prisons and raise questions about the appropriateness of prison for women in many cases. The chapter discusses patterns of women's incarceration and their drug use, women within forensic mental health services, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women within the criminal justice system. Women's drug use appears to be a defining factor in their participation in crime, although drawing an inference of direct causality between drug use and offending behavior by women is overly simplistic.