Between 1977 and 2004, the number of women in prison grew by 750% -- nearly twice the rate for men.
According to a 2004 National Institute of Justice study, 58% of incarcerated women will recidivate within 3 years and 39% will recidivate within 1 year.
Programs targeted to women offenders can help ease the transition back into their communities and help meet many reentry challenges.
Pathways to Criminality for Incarcerated Females As children: Exposure to divorce/death Significant poverty Extensive emotional/physical/Sexual abuse
Pathways to Criminality For Incarcerated Females As adults: Struggle to provide for self and children Trauma and victimization Substance abuse Mental Illness Relationship Issues Homelessness
Characteristics of Incarcerated Females Physical & sexual abuse 48% of women reported a history of physical or sexual abuse and 27% reported rape Poverty About 40% of women in state prisons were employed full-time prior to arrest, compared with 60% of men. Nearly 30% were receiving public assistance before arrest, compared to 8% of men. About 37% had incomes of less than $600 per month, compared to 28% of men.
Differences Between Females and Males Medical/Reproductive Parenthood Economic Victimization Developmental pathways-social/cultural Communication needs
Differences in Criminal Justice System Offense patterns different/Women enter system later Female primary offenses include running away and truancy Largest share of crime for minor property crimes and prostitution Not linear for females, but complex with indirect/direct factors
Characteristics of Incarcerated Females Substance abuse Nearly one in three women in state prisons reported committing their offense to support a drug addiction. Mental Health Issues Female inmates have higher rates of mental health problems than male inmates Federal prisons: 61% females, 44% males State prisons: 73% females, 55% males Local jails: 75% females, 63% males .
National Proactive and Innovative Programs Where are they?
San Francisco Sheriff’s Dept. Women’s Reentry Center Nearly 1,000 women per year are released from SF County Jail; 55% will be rearrested within 12 months To support women as they reenter their families and communities, the SF program provides women ex-offenders with transitional support services including: Housing assistance Substance abuse programs Employment referrals Healthcare Legal assistance
Cook County Sheriff’s Office Dept. of Women’s Justice Services Began program in 1996 due to a 92% increase in female offenders. Last year (2007), the Cook County jail population had a decrease in the female population. This downward trend can be attributed to the increase in women participating in the DWJS programs.
Cook County Sheriff’s Female Furlough Program (SFFP) Enables women to leave the facility and return to their homes each evening to care for their families: Only nonviolent offenders are allowed to participate Random drug screenings are conducted Women are fitted with electronic monitors and must remain in their homes until returning to jail each morning
Cook County Sheriff’s Female Furlough Program Mental health counseling is provided, utilizing the “Seeking Safety” curriculum Substance abuse treatment utilizes “Helping Women Recover” curriculum which includes lessons on Self, Relationship, Sexuality and Spirituality Program also includes job skills, parenting, life skills, health education and literacy
Cook County Sheriff’s Female Furlough Program (Chicago) PROGRAMS Mom’s Program
an off-site 16 bed community based program designed for pregnant and/or postpartum offenders and their preschool age children
Women’s Residential Program (WRP)
Residential treatment program utilizing the integrated model of treatment in a modified therapeutic community setting within the CC jail
Development of the Travis County Sheriff’s Office PRIDE Program Mission Statement “With the intent of lessening intergenerational incarceration, the mission of the PRIDE program is to assist incarcerated Travis County women in building stronger relationships with their children and families. This is accomplished by provided the women with information addressing their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.”
Goal –Reduction of intergenerational incarceration and recidivism Objectives: Reduce alcohol/drug usage Increase trauma coping skills Increase bonds with children and family Increase re-entry success
PRIDE PROGRAM Began in February 2008, Includes: Women’s Health Parenting (Emotion Coaching) Seeking Safety (substance abuse & PTSD) Money Management Safety from Domestic & Sexual Violence Truth Be Told (spiritual) Wholly Committed (spiritual) Getting Connected (housing & employment)
Current Participant Requirements Be a mother Commit to four weeks of attending daily classes/groups Participant Incentives: certificate trustee upon completion contact visits upon completion
Pride Demographics Total of 261 women enrolled 93 graduates of the program
Pride Demographics Graduates Race W= (52%) B = (12%) H= (36%) *Random sample of 55 out of the 261 total enrollment W=23 (42%) B =14 (25%) H =17 (31%) A = 1 (2%)
Outcomes Majority of women will be released directly to the community Only 24% released to prison
Outcomes Released (of 55 sample): Immigration = 1 Home/sentence completed = 9 Home early due to jail work = 9 By judge’s order = 1 Home on Probation = 3 Bond = 3
Outcomes Deferred Prosecution = 1 Drug treatments: Safe P = 1 SMART = 3 Short = 1 Home/Case Reset = 1 *Remaining still incarcerated
PRIDE Program Topics Topics offered: Parenting Women’s Health & Reproductive/STD Prevention Relationships Work Skills Spiritual Money Management Drug/Alcohol Trauma Healing Anger Management Sexual Assault Domestic Violence Prostitution
Top Four Inmate Requested Topics Parenting Relationships Money Management Work Skills
Participant Comments Participant Comments: “I need help on keeping my daughter-or to learn how to discipline without hitting and to be able to maintain my bills. I have lost many homes”. -Cynthia “My last relationship was very abusive and I stayed??? Something is wrong”.
Anecdotal Program Findings What women thought they wanted upon entry of the program, did not match up to what they felt they needed after completion of the program (Drug and Alcohol Treatment and Trauma Treatment not top four requested needs, but was rated high on evaluation) Relationships very important before and after graduation (Parenting scored as most useful)
Anecdotal Program Findings Women listed trust and “opening up in the program” as their number one challenge (far above any educational requirements) Women found that the second most challenging aspect in the program was remembering and dealing with past trauma
Reducing Risks for Women Address: Substance Abuse Family/Marital Mental Health Child Abuse Relationship and Family Conflict Parental Stress Housing Safety Adult Victimization Employment/Education (Van Voorhis 2007)
Steps for the Future Offer the program to more women Long-term research on effectiveness of the program- with regards to recidivism and improved family relationships Find ways to increase visitation bonds with mothers and their children (recent books in visitation) Pride on the Outside (mentoring program) Assisting non-profits with obtaining funding
What is needed? Staff – full time counselor/resources case worker Interns – counseling or social work graduate students Curriculum (especially parenting curriculum) Specialized officers Contract educators and therapists Committed Volunteers
More Developed Visitation Program Children’s books donated by Travis County Sheriff’s officers Male and female inmates in parenting classes encouraged to take a book and read to their children Reading fosters children’s learning and bonding with parent Children never stop needing or wanting their parents
Visitation Reading Program Bexar County Sheriff’s Department runs visitation program where parents play and read to their children (in existence over 9 years)
Participant Comments To Make a Case for Future Funding “Women’s health was cancelled for the summer, but very much needed”. “Sometimes, it was hard to talk to the group about some of my experiences. It would be helpful to talk with someone one-on-one”.
“If the justice system wants people to be accountable to it, then we must be accountable to the people” San Francisco Sheriff’s Department Program Director, Karen Levine