Paroling authorities play a critical role within correctional systems across the nation. They make thousands of decisions a year about the timing of release from prison for a significant number of offenders each year, set conditions of release and respond to violations of post-release supervision for many thousands more, and serve as important partners in contributing to public safety and the wise use of resources.

Carrying out these responsibilities effectively is both complex and critical to the effective functioning of the criminal justice system. The National Institute of Corrections (NIC) recently made available a series of papers and other resources that address those complexities in detail and make the case that paroling authorities are uniquely positioned to assist the criminal justice system to target its resources toward risk management and recidivism reduction goals, and make significant impacts upon community safety. The National Parole Resource Center (NPRC)—a joint initiative of the Center for Effective Public Policy and the Association of Paroling Authorities International that is funded by NIC and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) of the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs—offers another resource for paroling authorities and has outlined ten "practice targets" that define ways of operating that are can assist paroling authorities to more effectively carry out their responsibilities for risk reduction goals.

Most correctional policy has been designed and implemented to address the challenges of managing a predominantly male offender population. This male-driven focus stems from the fact that men have historically represented the vast majority of offenders in correctional institutions and on community supervision. However, as the population of women offenders has grown, so has an appreciation for the differences between male and female offenders.  As such, the following Resource Package has been developed to assist paroling authorities to consider their current practices with justice-involved women, and the degree to which they mirror the National Parole Resource Center's practice targets for enhancing community safety and the wise use of resources. This resource package is one in a series of three on special populations (the other packages will focus on offenders with mental health issues and sex offenders) that will provide paroling authority members with preliminary insight into how their practices compare to the ten practice targets, and where they might want to focus further attention in strengthening their work in the future.

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