National Resource Center on Justice Involved Women Newsletter
The National Resource Center on Justice Involved Women (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.
Groundbreaking Forum Convened: Women Unshackled
On July 18, 2017, The Justice Action Network and the Brennan Center for Justice presented “Women Unshackled: Policy Solutions to Address the Growth of Female Incarceration” – a day-long forum to discuss the unique challenges women face in the system and the policy solutions to improve outcomes. The discussion featured panels and presentation from bipartisan leaders on women’s incarceration issues, including Governor Mary Fallin (R-OK), U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA), and U.S. Representatives Mia Love (R-UT), Doug Collins (R-GA), and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX). Topics covered during this event included: how arrest and jail policies impact women and families, rehabilitation and treatment strategies for women behind bars, what happens to children mothers are incarcerated, and the need for female-focused reentry programs.
The Justice Action Network plans to develop a set of policy recommendations that emerged as a result of this event. For more information, click here.
New Legislation Introduced: The Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act
Senators Kamala Harris (D- CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced legislation last week to reform the way women are treated behind bars. The proposed legislation acknowledges that in many prisons, women lack basic hygiene or reproductive health, are subject to threats of sexual violence, and are shackled while pregnant and/or while giving birth.
The bill “bans the shackling of pregnant women, requires the Bureau of Prisons to create better visitation policies for parents, provide parenting classes, and offer health products like tampons and pads free of charge. The bill also restricts prison employees from entering restrooms of the opposite sex unless there are pressing circumstances, among other things.”
The legislation also proposed the creation of a new federal prison pilot program that would allow mothers to have overnight stays with their children, and would require the Bureau of Prisons to remove some of the obstacle that discourage mothers from seeing their children during their incarceration. Proponents say the effort is aimed at restoring dignity to female prisoners.
"Mothers should be encouraged to call their children every night. Incarceration is hard enough, but at a minimum we should make it possible for those women to call their children and say goodnight," said Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). "We should nourish those times between a mother and her child. And we should make sanitary products available to all women who are incarcerated. This is the kind of thing that is shocking that we don't [do]."
PBS “Frontline” Presents: Life on Parole
PBS series Frontline aired “Life on Parole” on July 18, 2017. This documentary follows four parolees who are recently released from prison, including Jessica Proctor, a young woman who served ten years in prison for assault. The documentary provides a very insightful look at the barriers Jessica – like many similarly situated women – face upon their release from prison, including reconnecting with children and family, staying free from substance abuse, finding a place to live, and securing gainful employment. Follow Jessica’s story and those of the other three parolees here.
NRCJIW in the Field: Gender Responsive Discipline and Sanctions: Planning for Policy Improvement
The NRCJIW and The National Institute of Corrections (NIC) spent a week in July in Aurora, Colorado conducting “Gender Responsive Discipline and Sanctions: Planning for Policy Improvement,” where we assisted teams of corrections professionals from California, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Oregon, and Pennsylvania in assessing their current discipline and sanctions policies and practices and considering strategies for creating more gender responsive and trauma informed approaches in women’s facilities. Teams were provided with the tools needed to revise their discipline and sanctions policies and practices to more effectively respond to women’s behaviors, and create safer facilities for staff and women. Thanks to our partners and to NIC and BJA for supporting this important work!
New Resource Available: A Review of Gender-Responsive Problem Solving Courts
This new resource, authored by Jamie Vaske, Brianna Murray, and Ashley Bauman, explores the recent proliferation of gender-informed problem solving courts, and describes how they operate differently than other problem solving courts (i.e., program characteristics, eligibility) in order to meet women’s unique needs.
The authors note that courts geared towards women or the offenses most often committed by women operate very similarly to other problem solving courts, but they tend to specialize in trauma, mental health, substance use, prostitution, human trafficking, and gender-responsive principles of delivering services. They also experience similar problems as other treatment courts (i.e., funding, disproportionate minority contact, and identifying appropriate housing and employment options for clients), but also some unique issues such as the assumption that all clients are victims. A key recommendation from the report is that jurisdictions interested in pursuing a gender-responsive problem solving court should ground their policies and procedures in guidance from the National Association of Drug Court Professionals as well as gender-responsive principles. Since research to date is limited, the authors encourage practitioners and researchers to continue to evaluate these programs in order to better understand their effectiveness in addressing women’s specific needs. To access this resource, click here.
Save the Date for the AJFO Annual Conference in Santa Clara, California
The 17th Bi-Annual – Association of Justice-Involved Females and Organizations Conference will be convened in Santa Clara, California on December 11-13, 2017. The theme of this year’s conference will be Changing the Narrative for Justice Involved Women and Girls: the Journey from Reform to Transformation. Click here to visit the AJFO conference website for upcoming details on registration and logistics.
Please Like and Follow Us on Social Media!
Friends of NRCJIW, we are thrilled to announce our presence on social media. Please take a moment to LIKE us on Facebook and FOLLOW us on Twitter. We would love to grow our audience so that we can continue to provide you with updates on our work and other critical issues related to women in the justice system. We look forward to “seeing” you on line!