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  • Author or Editor: Gemma Ahearne x
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This chapter draws from auto/biographical reflections from working in a women’s centre. The site and all names have been anonymised but feed into a wider discussion of the troubling relationship between women’s centres and the marketisation of rehabilitation. Auto/biography provides an invaluable way of demonstrating that the feminist researcher cannot be separated from the research (Ahearne, 2021; Baldwin, 2021). Alternatives to custodial sentencing for women are often uncritically considered to be a positive step in criminal justice reform. This chapter interrogates the harms that can arise from the (mis)use of punishment in women’s centres and the empty neoliberal rhetoric of ‘empowerment’ that is not trauma-informed and does not seek to challenge the state’s powers and the feminisation of poverty. This neoliberal governance is part of commodifying service users as ‘bums on seats’. This also raises the importance of understanding ‘radical’ alternatives to imprisonment as being on a spectrum of decarceration (Terweil, 2020) and not accepting binary understandings of reform versus abolitionism.

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