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Katherine Van Wormer, Counseling Female Offenders and Victims: A Strengths-Restorative Approach. New York: Springer Publishing Co., 2001. $49.95 hardcover.
While there has been a large body of research and literature on victims of family violence and a growing body of knowledge concerning prison inmates, Katherine Van Wormer has written an innovative volume that examines the similarities and differences between females who are victims and those who are incarcerated as offenders. As a starting point, the author points out that both female victims and female offenders must cope with a male-dominated criminal justice system. Secondly, while victims are often intimately tied to perpetrators of violence, the vast majority of female offenders have a past or current history of victimization. Finally, Van Wormer proposes a strengths-restorative approach to counseling both female victims and offenders that forms a bridge between the two, traditionally discrete populations of women.
For United States social workers, social work students and other professional mental health clinicians in the field of criminal justice and domestic violence, this book is an exciting addition to the list of interesting and comprehensive texts. It provides an insightful examination of the problems confronting women on both sides of the criminal justice system. In addition, it defines precise social work techniques and methods for working with women who are victims, offenders or both.
The book is divided into two major sections. The first section of the book focuses on women's victimization. The first two chapters provide an overview of women involved in the criminal justice system and a framework for empowering women utilizing the strengths-restorative approach whether they are victims or offenders. Chapter 3 contains a detailed description of abuse and sexual assault of women both within and outside of intimate relationships. The final chapter of this section, Chapter 4, describes guidelines for counseling and empowering victims of violence.
In addition to providing an important historical perspective of women and the criminal justice system, the author leads the reader through a paradigm shift from a retribution model of justice to a restorative-strengths model that could empower female victims and prevent female offenders from cycling through the criminal justice system with no hope of improving their lives. The first section includes case examples and clearly delineated methods for social work counseling with victims and offenders.
The second section of the book is divided into three chapters that focus on women who commit illegal acts. …