National Resource Center on Justice Involved Women Newsletter
This is the fourth in a series of bimonthly newsletters from the National Resource Center on Justice Involved Women (NRCJIW). The NRCJIW provides guidance and support to justice professionals – and promotes evidence-based, gender-responsive policies and practices – to reduce the number and improve the outcomes of women involved in the criminal justice system.
The NRCJIW Receives Supplemental Funding
The National Resource Center on Justice Involved Women (NRCJIW) is pleased to announce that it has received supplemental funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). These funds will allow the Center to continue our partnership with BJA and the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) to provide a full array of training and technical assistance services to criminal justice professionals on issues related to justice-involved women through March, 2015. The NRCJIW will continue its activities in several key areas, including website maintenance and enhancement; responding to requests for information, training, technical assistance and outreach; and production of written resources on key topics, including bi-monthly e-newsletters and ongoing innovator profiles. The Resource Center will also undertake three new activities: provision of assistance for up to three pilot sites to develop gender responsive pretrial assessment tool(s) and a pretrial toolkit for broad dissemination; conduct of a national leadership symposium; and conduct of four Gender-Informed Practice Assessments (GIPAs). To get updates about the work of the NRCJIW, visit our website at http://cjinvolvedwomen.org/ or join our mailing list by visiting http://cjinvolvedwomen.org/ask-nrcjiw.
New NRCJIW Innovator: Drew House
Drew House represents a unique partnership between the Kings County (Brooklyn, New York) District Attorney's Office and Housing + Solutions, a non-profit supportive housing provider. This innovative program allows select women charged with felony offenses to fulfill the Court's mandates while living with their children in a supportive housing apartment. Felony charges are dismissed after completion to prevent future disenfranchisement. Drew House was originally conceptualized in 2000 by Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes and Assistant District Attorneys Mary Hughes and Teresa Fabi. After years of setbacks in implementing their vision of a mother-child alternative to incarceration program, the house opened in 2008 after they joined forces with Rita Zimmer and Housing + Solutions, a non-profit supportive housing provider.
The Drew House Model provides supportive housing in a non-secure setting as an alternative to incarceration (ATI) for women with minor children. All mothers with felony charges are eligible for consideration on a case by case basis (those charged with violent felony offenses are eligible for consideration if the crime did not result in serious injury and the victim approves.) The program also allows for:
Acceptance of minor children (the number of children is not limited).
- Case management and brief counseling (provided on-site).
- Referrals for community health and supportive services.
- Prerequisite of homelessness at plea and disability (mandated by current funding source), most commonly substance abuse use or mental illness.
- Court monitoring by third party (women are not monitored by the court after completion of their mandate).
Columbia University researchers were engaged to review and assess Drew House (see http://www.brooklynda.org/drew_house/DrewHouse_Report.pdf). Their findings are summarized below.
Participants are ordered to reside in Drew House until the court determines the terms of their mandate are completed (generally between 12 and 24 months). Residence in the program requires adhering to program rules, such as curfew, visitation, and comportment within the house. Mandates also typically include mandatory drug testing and weekly monitoring by Brooklyn TASC or Brooklyn Treatment Court, substance abuse treatment, parenting classes, education or vocational training, and pursuit of employment. One of the most unique aspects of Drew House is that women with violent charges are not automatically excluded from the program, which is the norm in community corrections (in screening their cases, the District Attorney and Assistant District Attorneys began noticing that many of their violent cases with female defendants had not resulted in a serious injury and that circumstances of the cases suggested the woman were unlikely to pose a future threat to public safety.) As they identified eligible women, they also found that the victims readily agreed with the alternative placement. The case and housing managers use a strengths-based, relational approach in partnering with women individually and as a group to decrease risks associated with future criminal justice contact and promote independence. Staff also model prosocial behavior, assist women in attaining and maintaining self-sufficiency through employment and public assistance, support positive relationships with family and partners, and connect participants with education and vocational training. Support in seeking post-mandate independent housing is also provided. The case manager works to connect families to needed primary and specialty health care and developmental support services, such as Early Intervention.
The primary aim of the research conducted by Columbia University was to evaluate implementation of the program and determine interim outcomes for participating families. Their findings supported Drew House as a model program: "Allowing select women charged with felonies and their children to reside in Drew House strengthened these families without compromising public safety."
Key evaluation findings included:
- Six of the nine program participants have successfully completed their court mandate. Two additional women were progressing without incident toward completion at the end of data collection. Drew House is cost-effective. It costs $34,000 a year to house a mother and two children, as opposed to $129,000 a year for incarceration and foster care.
- Women were 29 years (range 20 - 40 years) of age on entry.
- The average length of stay from entry to completion was 15 months (range 7 - 21 months).
- Participating women reported an average of 2.3 children (range 1 - 4), but approximately one fewer child per family lived in the program (range 1 - 3). The average age of resident children on entry was 5 years (range 6 months – 13 years).
- The charge leading to Drew House placement was the first felony for all but one woman.
- No participants were charged with an additional crime while living in the house. The three women who have moved out have not received any additional charges.
- The Drew House program supported family preservation, especially with younger children.
- Women uniformly described staying in the community with their children as an "opportunity" and a "blessing."
To learn more about Drew House and to read an interview with the creator of the program, Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes, visit http://www.cjinvolvedwomen.org/innovators-drew-house.
New Resource: Health, Justice, Women: Transforming Systems, Changing Lives
The National Institute of Corrections' August satellite and internet broadcast Health, Justice, Women: Transforming Systems, Changing Lives is now available for viewing at http://nicic.gov/Library/026332.
In this broadcast experts explored research, strategies, and resources designed to effect health care practices used with justice-involved women.
- In Segment 1, experts provide an overview of justice-involved women, gender-responsive research theories, the differences between women and men in the justice system, and the importance of women's strengths in mitigating risk of continued criminal involvement.
- Segment 2 discusses the applicability of the public health model to criminal justice settings, describes the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study and its implications for women involved in the justice system. This segment also describes how multi-disciplinary, culturally competent, and trauma-informed approaches are necessary for providing health care to justice-involved women.
- In Segment 3, the critical role of leaders in advancing gender-responsive and trauma informed strategies for women offenders is discussed. Wardens Kevin Gause (CT) and Dona Zavislan (CO) describe the barriers and successful strategies to implementing gender-responsive trauma-informed approaches in their facilities. Warden Mark Patterson (HI) also provides an overview of how the HI Department of Public Safety has created a more gender-responsive, trauma-informed environment through a focus on staff, programming, administration, community and environment (SPACE).
- Segment 4 focuses on the transition of justice-involved women to the community. Barriers to reentry, promising practices, and examples of effective partnerships between corrections and health care providers are also provided.
A participant guide is available online and can be downloaded here: http://nicic.gov/Downloads/Files/SIB12S9002_PART.%20GUIDE-HealthJusticeWomenV5.pdf