Barriers to reentry and their disparate impact on women

Key Points

Finding stable employment quickly after being released is the best way to decrease recidivism; however, studies have shown that it is more difficult for women to find work, to maintain employment and to be paid equitably. By providing employment opportunities to formerly incarcerated women, business owners can not only improve community safety by reducing recidivism but also make a dramatic impact in the life of a person searching for a second chance.
Women are being arrested and incarcerated at a rapidly increasing rate, but programs tailored to aid in reentry are not being modified to accommodate women. Women are being caught in the web of increasing harsh drug laws and sanctions, so if we can decriminalize non-violent drug offenses to see fewer women being incarcerated and simultaneously improve correctional education to prepare women for reentry, we can set of a system of success.

Women are denied basic healthcare provisions in prison which can lead women to minimize their healthcare needs once released. By treating incarcerated women with dignity and proving basic feminine hygiene products while detained, we can promote the importance of healthcare upon release.

Even when children are reunited with their mothers post-release, the very process of reunification often requires mothers to be called to court repeatedly to attend “dependency hearings” meant to determine if the mother can provide a stable environment for a child. As in the case with overly restrictive parole officer visits, these continuing appearances in court and all of the required hurdles that come along with them often interfere with the employment and stable living environment necessary to prove fitness in the first place. Certainly, periodic reviews of a child’s dependency status are useful when used effectively and in moderation but in many cases, allowing mothers to remain out of prison and to participate in community-based alternatives is the best situation for the family.





Image credit: Alan Poulson Photography

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