Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Simon, James


The study explored current organizational barriers and gaps in service delivery to incarcerated women to examine whether current services are meeting the needs of this population. The study is relevant to the social work profession due to a high likelihood of social service needs found amongst this population and their families within the community. Barriers to success were identified through the perspective of service providers (BSW, MSW, LCSW, LMFT’s) with current and/or past experience working with this population. Current service provisions in correctional facilities were examined to determine barriers or gaps in services in four key areas: communication, parenting services, mental health services and employment services.

A non-probability sampling technique (snowball sampling) was used to target professional service providers in California. Qualitative data analysis from in-depth semi-structured interviews with 9 service providers who had contact with the population during the last 10 years provided relevant information in representation of the data. Content analysis was employed to identify themes and evidence to support the four key areas in question. The following themes were derived: mental health, transition, employment, familial support and provider perceptions of success.

The research provided detailed information suggesting significant barriers and gaps in services within the female prison system during and post incarceration. Specifically, it points to needed improvements within mental health (i.e., trauma-informed practices, increased accessibility, and appropriate treatment measures) and reintegration services (i.e., employment preparation, linkage to community resources post-release and housing services) for an increase possibility of inmate success.