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How Cognitive Skills Forgot About Gender and Diversity

Shaw, Margaret
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) IN, George Mair,ed., What Matters in Probation?. Cullompton, Devon,UK: Willan Publishing. Pp. 90-122.

As Margaret Shaw and Kelly Hannah-Moffat observe, much of the discussion in favor of evidence-based policies and effective programs in criminal justice is straightforward and appealing. It promises better programs based on “what works,â€? leading to safer citizens and communities. Yet, Shaw and Hannah-Moffat caution, most of the discussion ignores the origins of the research on which this approach is based. They characterize this research as having theoretical and methodological weaknesses with respect to applicability to minority populations – that is, with respect to issues of gender and diversity. Hence, in this chapter Smith and Hannah-Moffat critique what they perceive as research and operational assumptions that programs developed for men will be applicable to women. They question the theoretical, methodological, ethical, and practical weaknesses of research and practice grounded in studies of majority male populations. This research literature and its resulting practices, they contend, ignore and dismiss the effects of gender and diversity, or the social and economic constraints on offenders’ lives.


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