Finalizing a Gender Responsive Protocol


CEPP partnered with an advisory group of gender-informed policy and practice experts to create and pilot the Gender-Informed Practice Assessment (GIPA). The GIPA is an assessment protocol to help women’s prisons better understand the degree to which their policies and practices align with trauma-informed, gender-responsive, and evidence-based practices that, according to research, lead to improved outcomes for women in custody. 

Our Approach

CEPP finalized and piloted the GIPA with support from the National Institute of Corrections. The GIPA is a protocol composed of 12 domains (e.g., leadership, security, programs, and services) designed to assess women’s facilities’ adherence to evidence-based and gender-responsive principles.  Findings from the GIPA can be used to assist facility leadership and staff to identify practices that support gender-responsive principles, determine improvements that can be made to address the safety and welfare of facility staff and women in custody, and ultimately reduce recidivism and improve outcomes for women. The GIPA process is multipronged and includes a thorough review of department and facility written policies, protocols, and other documents; observations of critical correctional operational practices, programs, and services; interviews and focus groups with facility leadership and staff; and written surveys of facility staff and women who are incarcerated.

Before finalizing the GIPA, CEPP piloted the tool in three states (Iowa, Missouri, and Maine). This included: 

 Multi-day onsite assessments in the states’ women’s facilities

  • Scoring each of the 12 GIPA domains once the assessment was completed
  • Conducting an exit interview with facility leadership regarding initial findings
  • Preparing a findings and recommendations report about changes that could be implemented to make facility operations in each of the 12 domains more evidence-based and gender-responsive
  • Conducting, in some cases, a follow-up strategic planning session with facility leadership and staff to review the findings and recommendations and develop a detailed implementation plan

A final assessment protocol, an accompanying user’s manual, and a curriculum for an evaluator training and certification program were produced.

The Impact

The approach outlined in the GIPA has the potential to have far-reaching benefits for women’s institutions across the country. Some of the more immediate benefits may include enhanced strategic planning efforts; the adoption of improved risk and needs assessments; the targeting of critical factors through case management that will reduce institutional misconduct, revocation, and reoffending; and improved safety and interactions between staff and women in custody settings.  

  • One women’s facility took immediate concrete steps to better align the management of its two wings, added new staff positions to support its work with women, and pursued the design and delivery of training for staff on strategies for working with women. The facility also undertook an effort to develop standard operating procedures to ensure that its policies and protocols were trauma-informed and gender responsive.
  • As a result of the pilot implementation of the GIPA, one state reported that their “eyes had suddenly been opened” to changes they needed to make in order to be more gender-responsive. That state was awarded a Second Chance Act demonstration grant focused on supporting reentry for women returning from prison, and attributes this accomplishment in part to the challenges and opportunities identified by their participation in the GIPA process.

Since the initial development of the GIPA, it has been conducted in 7 states and 10 women’s facilities and is being contemplated in additional states.