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NCJ Number: 191925 Find in a Library
Title: Homelessness and the Criminal Justice System
Journal: Women, Girls & Criminal Justice  Volume:2  Issue:6  Dated:October/November 2001  Pages:83,91-93,94
Author(s): Eileen Baldry
Date Published: 2001
Page Count: 5
Type: Newsletter
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article presents data on homelessness in Australia, England, Wales, and the United States.
Abstract: There are many ways women, men, and families can be caught in the nexus of homelessness and the criminal justice system. Being a ward of the state, being ethnically or racially marginalized, lacking a secure home due to abuse or other negative factors, drug abuse, mental illness, intellectual and learning disabilities, poverty and debt, unemployment, and lack of education, are all factors overrepresented among those held in juvenile detention centers and adult prisons and among partners and families of prisoners. They are also over-represented in the homeless population. In Australia, approximately 7,700 persons in New South Wales (NSW) are in prison (n=530 females), (n=7,170 males). These figures represent an increase overall of 107 percent over almost 20 years (between 1982 and 2001). Data about the status of accommodations prior to imprisonment in NSW indicated that only 7 to 8 percent of male and 11 percent of female prisoners were homeless or in highly insecure accommodations. On the other hand, 54 percent of male and 62 percent of female prisoners listed “renting” as their living situation. This may well mask intermittent homelessness or highly unstable housing. In the United States, the intersection of homelessness and the criminal justice system is most often addressed in relation to mental illness. Persistent questions that have been raised include: “Since de-institutionalization of persons with mental illness, are jails replacing the mental health system for the homeless mentally ill?” and “Does this represent a criminalization of the homeless mentally ill?” These questions arise from data indicating much higher numbers of persons with mental illness who are homeless and have been arrested and imprisoned. Youth are significantly affected by homelessness. In a celebrated study, Hagan and McCarthy (1997) interviewed street youth in Vancouver and Toronto, Canada and found that living on the streets, by itself, contributed to youth crime. A study of children in foster care in New York found that one in five ended up on the streets and homeless (Office of Public Affairs Advocate, 2001). This article also discussed those released from custody but with no place to go. Paylor (1995a) found that in the United Kingdom, the accommodation outlook for ex-offenders was worse than two decades ago. The author then reviewed the Australian experience as it related to young girls and women involved in the juvenile justice system, the plight of the indigenous Australians with respect to housing, and gender and homelessness. The final section dealt with the policy and strategic responses to homelessness. References
Main Term(s): Homeless persons; Homelessness causes
Index Term(s): Children at risk; Environmental influences; Homeless children; Mental disorders; Street crimes; Supportive housing
Note: Adapted from a paper presented to the Homelessness Summit, the Parliament of New South Wales on May 15, 2001.
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