Contemporary Issues in Juvenile Justice


The theories of gender responsive programming in corrections have focused on the importance of relationships, gender roles, and structural barriers for women (Bloom, Owen, & Covington, 2003). They also included a strong recommendation for cultural responsiveness in recognizing cultural differences among female offenders and providing culturally relevant services (Bloom et al., 2003). However, there was little theoretical or empirical guidance on how to respond when the goals of gender responsive programming conflicted with the culture of female offenders. Findings from a program evaluation of a small, gang intervention program working with Hmong American girls, suggested that in such conflicts, cultural responsiveness became secondary to the primary goal of gender responsiveness. This study documented differences in the definition of gender roles and views on the status of women held by the program and the participants' culture by utilizing content analysis of case records, semi-structured interviews with participants and stakeholders, and observation field notes. Analysis found no attempt by the program to assist the participants in understanding the cultural conflicts they were experiencing within their families or as recent immigrants. Implications of this programmatic tension were discussed and suggestions were made for future program administrators and practitioners looking for community resources that were both gender and culturally responsive.