Helping women start over….

 I was happy to see  the National H.I.R.E. Network  devoted its 5th Annual Policy  Conference last week  to one of the most overlooked groups of ex-offenders.

You guessed it  – women.

The advocacy organization, which is dedicated to helping individuals with criminal records,  focused some much needed attention on the fact that , as I’ve noted, women face unique challenges in starting over after incarceration.  At the same time, most reentry programs and efforts are devoted to the needs of the men.   There’s a lack of understanding about the female experience behind bars, as well as what their needs are after release.   There’s also a stigma.  

I also think H.I.R.E. came up with some interesting  recommendations for change:

Within facilities

  • Improved discharge planning, including reinstating Medicaid and obtaining a state identification card and birth certificate prior to release.
  • More higher education opportunities for women.
  • Placement for mothers within reasonable distance from children to encourage visitation.
  • Improved medical and psychiatric care, and an increase in trauma-informed corrections and service provider staff.

Reentry

  • A shorter, less-invasive process for securing a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or a Certificate of Good Conduct.
  • Improved communication between criminal and housing courts to reduce problems women have trying to reunite with their children upon reentry.
  • More transitional and affordable housing; too often women manage to reunite with their children only to wind up in a shelter.

Readers, how about you?    Are there any services you’ve seen that have helped women?  Anything you would add?

By the way, you can more about the conference here.

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1 Comment

Filed under criminal records, education ex-offenders, homelessness, hope for ex-offenders, reentry, reentry resources, starting over, women ex-offenders

One response to “Helping women start over….

  1. Phil Keller

    I was released from prison in 2004; having served 17 years. While incarcerated I earned 2 college degrees – the highest being a BS in organizational management. About 18 months after entering a graduate program on campus, my masters was completed at the end of 2005.
    Not discounting the serious nature of my crime, I have a single criminal act on my record, several very good work references from part-time positions, and solid personal references, yet I cannot even begin to find employment. I am too educated or too experienced for entry level jobs, I’m told. But with a felony, not acceptable for a higher position commensurate with my skills and education! My experience has been, if you have a felony, acquiring post-secondary education is virtually pointless!!!

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