Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy

Academic Discipline

Community Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Bradley Olson

Second Advisor

Dr. Judah Viola

Third Advisor

Dr. Tiffeny Jimenez


Women are the fastest-growing segment of the incarcerated population, steadily increasing since 1985 (ACLU, n.d.). More than one million women are behind bars or have some involvement with the criminal justice system. The rapid growth of incarceration among women has led scholars and researchers to address the growing needs and risk levels that lead to increased recidivism rates. The creation of assessment tools specifically focused on female populations began in 1999. However, before this time, instruments were historically designed for men within the criminal justice system, and addendums were added to these tools to be used with female populations (Voorhis et al., 2007).

Based on findings from prior research and existing literature, the current study details the design of the Women’s Assets and Risks Matter (WARM) Assessment Tool using an exploratory sequential mixed method approach rooted in community psychology values that: 1) Effectively assesses post-release risk levels to identify needs and link individuals to appropriate services as part of reentry and supervision plans, 2) Produce outcomes that target the unique needs of women post-release, 3) Is designed with the input of formerly incarcerated women to improve the quality and ensure a more ethical process for design and 4) Focus on individual and community assets to ensure success as defined by the individual and contribute to lower recidivism outcomes.

The WARM assessment tool was designed to aid in successful outcomes for women-post release and consider their unique needs by involving them in creating an RNA tool. Future tools should be designed in collaboration with communities and key stakeholders to encourage better post-release outcomes.