I see major problems with this case.. This woman probably wouldn't have kept re-offending, if someone had actually helped her! Did anyone provide her with career resources? Job Skills? Resume writing skills? Counseling for her troubled history? Treatment programs to address her cocaine addiction? The answer is no. This woman's motive is not "criminal", I would argue. She is stealing in order to survive. She is not stealing to support a drug addiction, or "just for fun." This woman needs help to address the underlying factors contributing to her shoplifting program.
I think that it should have been recommended that she attend a 10 week program provided by the Elizabeth Fry Society called "Stop Lifting" to address to causes of shoplifting, be provided with drug treatment, career resources and help to find a job and she should have been given probation.
Prison will not help this woman in any way (except stop her from re-offending). She will likely be released with yet again, no help to address her issues. The cycle will only continue.
You are definitely right. She may have been through many programs already. She does need to do the work as well and commit to changing and improving herself. Maybe the 3 months in prison will help her to come to the realization that she can't keep doing this and does need to change.
I am passionate about criminal law and am not advocating for criminals to "walk-free." I think that some individuals need to spend time in prison, but it should be reserved for repeat, dangerous and high risk offenders. I think that all other alternatives should be considered beforehand, as they are more successful for most people and show lower recidivism rates than prison.
In this case, this woman requires a combination of counseling, treatment and incarceration, I believe.