Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



In July 1997, the Massachusetts State Legislature, recognizing the challenge presented by the problem of substance abuse for women in the criminal justice system, authorized funds to the Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Services for a study of substance using female offenders to be conducted by the John W. McCormack Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Since March 1998, a group of researchers at the McCormack Institute and the Criminal Justice Center at UMass Boston has gathered and analyzed a wealth of quantitative and qualitative information on women offenders in Massachusetts.

This information includes data from the case files for a random sample of women arraigned in 1996 in two district courts in Greater Boston; interviews with court personnel from these two courts; interviews with a statewide sample of treatment providers; interviews with substance abusing female offenders in Greater Boston; and the Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Services admission and discharge statistics. It is important to keep in mind that the data from the probation case files were not limited to women who were “on probation” but included a sample drawn from all women arraigned in 1996. In addition, all data were gathered in Spring/Summer 1998 and capture the court response from 1996 thru 1998.

The following summarizes the results of our study and offers a series of recommendations for court personnel, treatment providers, and other policy makers concerned with the issues of women who are both substance abusers and who have entered (or who are at risk of entering) the Massachusetts criminal justice system.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.