Why It Is Crucial to Establish More Reintegration Programs for Women
Date:  03-06-2015

The number of incarcerated women has steadily risen but supportive reintegration programs for females have not
It seems fitting that Reentry Central should end the first week of Women’s History month with an article on how the criminal justice system fails women who are released from prison. For almost five years Reentry Central has been reporting on issues justice-involved women face, from a call for a national agenda on women in detention to being pregnant in prison. Throughout these five years the number of women in prison has risen. Most of the women will be released one day, yet the number reentry programs for women have not grown accordingly.

An article in the February 15 issue of Cosmopolitan takes on the topic of how difficult it can be for formerly incarcerated women to reintegrate back into the community. The stigma alone of being a female with a criminal history is a powerful and destructive force that many women find difficult to cope with, let alone overcome.

Fortunately there are a few noteworthy reentry programs for women including A New Way of Life, (ANWOL) based in South Central Los Angeles. Founded by Susan Burton, herself a formerly incarcerated woman, ANWOL provides support and new hope to women who are released from prison, as detailed in the Cosmopolitan article.

There has been a massive movement of highly motivated people working to make effective changes to the nation’s criminal justice system. It is important that those changes include measures that support ending the mass incarceration of women and provide funding for more reentry services, including transitional housing for women.

There is a female-empowment saying that proclaims, “Women hold up half the sky.” Unfortunately, too many women are also holding on to prison bars with one hand while reaching out to touch the sky with the other. And when they are released and seek to grasp onto a new life their hands seem to be tied. How can we cut those ties to make them whole again? Read the real-life experiences of reintegrating women here.