Recovering in Safety: Addressing the intersectional impact of rural poverty, opioid misuse, and partner violence victimization on marginalized women and children in Vermont.
Emily Rothman, Rebecca Stone and Diane Kinney (2018)
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Research Leaders Fellowship

Like other U.S. states, Vermont is now facing an opioid epidemic. For many Vermonters, intimate partner violence (IPV) is intertwined with poverty and substance abuse disorders. In 2016, there were 106 opioid-related fatalities in Vermont, a 41% increase from 2015. IPV is a correlate of opioid use disorder (OUD); at least 2.4% of IPV victims have OUDs whereas the rate is 0.1% for the general population. From a national perspective, Vermont has been on the cutting edge of responding to the opioid epidemic in many ways.

However, the state Opioid Coordination Council's plan presently does not contain language or objectives related to IPV. One of Vermont's strengths as a state is its cohesive and centralized state network of domestic violence shelters and advocacy programs (called the Vermont Network to End Domestic Violence)-and those programs could play an important role in addressing the opioid epidemic. The proposed research study will bring together Vermont IPV service experts with policy experts to develop and test an innovative community-based strategy to address poverty, OUD, and IPV.

Specifically, our team will perform a needs and policy assessment, and design, implement, and evaluate an intervention program for IPV survivors in Washington County, Vermont who are also struggling with poverty and OUD. Our goal is for the findings to be used by the Vermont Network, the National Network to End Domestic Violence, and federal and state policymakers to promote a new approach to IPV and OUD.

Advancing a Gendered Perspective of Desistance and Identity Transformation
Kimberly Kras and Rebecca Stone (2017)
Data collection ongoing

Despite an increasing number of justice-involved women, criminological theories about offending behavior have largely emerged from studying male samples and later applying them to females, thereby neglecting to specify women’s unique experiences in the justice system. Primary theories explaining entry into and exit from a life of crime have focused on the influence of internal (i.e. cognitive) and external (i.e. structural) factors. There remains an ongoing debate in the field about the importance of identity change for desistance to occur, and the balance between human agency and structural opportunities for leading prosocial lives. Theoretical developments in this area also raise questions about the implications for policy and practice, particularly in the arenas of incarceration and community supervision. To date, very little attention has been paid to how these theories of desistance might operate differently by gender.

To develop gender-specific theories of desistance from criminal offending, this project aims to collect a comparative dataset of in-depth interviews with men and women probationers and parolees. Specifically, this project seeks to understand 1) how current theories of desistance apply to a contemporaneous sample of men’s and women’s experiences in the justice system, 2) how age-graded life course experiences related to desistance might be different for men and women, thus providing gender-differentiated opportunities for change, and 3) how evidence-based community supervision strategies aimed at desistance are experienced by men and women. Findings from this research will be used to inform theoretical development in the life course framework and evidence-based policies and practices implemented in community corrections agencies.

Meanings of Motherhood Study, September-December 2013
Role: Co-PI (doctoral dissertation research)

Using data collected through in-depth life history interviews with thirty recently-pregnant women who had used alcohol, tobacco or other drugs during their pregnancies, this study captured the experiences of substance-using mothers as they navigated health and criminal justice systems. The data reveal multiple patterns of desistance behavior, from prompt desistance to persistence throughout the pregnancy. Women supported their desistance during and after pregnancy by reinterpreting their life stories as narratives of redemption. By reinterpreting their past suffering as redemptive, desisting women were able to narrate prosocial and generative futures in which they would tell their stories to others to show that desistance is possible. Women’s stories highlighted their strategies for managing their risk of detection by health or criminal justice authorities and revealed multiple barriers to treatment and healthcare, including a lack of suitable treatment options.

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