National Resource Center on Justice Involved Women Newsletter
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.
NRCJIW: The Year in Review
In 2014, the Resource Center had the opportunity to work with a number of criminal justice practitioners through the provision of training and technical assistance. It is always a pleasure to partner with and learn from criminal justice agencies and community-based organizations who are so dedicated to working with justice-involved women in positive ways to help them to be more successful in their lives. We wanted to take this opportunity to reflect upon the Resource Center's activities over the past year and provide a preview of things to come as we begin the new year.
During 2014, the NRCJIW reached approximately 860 individuals through the delivery of presentations and workshops at national conferences, webinars and training events on critical topics to promote evidence-based, gender responsive practices. Some of these included:
- Workshops and presentations at key professional organization annual conferences, including the American Correctional Association, American Jail Association, American Probation and Parole Association, International Community Corrections Association, National Commission on Correctional Health Care, and the National Reentry Resource Center.
- National webinars on emerging topics related to justice-involved women, including:
- In partnership with the American Jail Association, a national summit on Achieving More Effective Outcomes with Women in Jails to identify areas of improved practice and develop concrete strategies for engaging local correctional facilities in this topic.
The Resource Center responded to five requests for technical assistance from criminal justice agencies interested in improving their policy and management practices with justice-involved women. Assistance was provided to the Minnesota Department of Corrections (MN DOC), Maricopa County Adult Probation and its partners, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, The Benedict Center in Milwaukee, WI, and criminal justice staff in Eau Claire and La Crosse Counties, WI and the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (WI DOC). As a result of NRCJIW assistance,
- Shakopee Women's Facility, MN DOC, has a blueprint for integrating various initiatives (e.g., Prison Rape Elimination Act, Transition from Prison to the Community) and to make improvements in safety and security of the facility and in a more gender responsive manner. This assistance was provided by the Moss Group and the NRCJIW.
- Maricopa County, AZ Adult Probation and its jail program partners have adjusted the delivery of services to women with co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse disorders to include enhanced communication between the probation officer and case manager, and involving women in the development of their own case plans. This assistance was provided in partnership with the National Institute of Corrections.
- The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has a vision, mission and program design for a new female facility and a detailed plan for the management of women during the transition to the new facility.
- The Benedict Center in Milwaukee, WI, began developing a process for evaluating staff performance and is piloting the Service Planning Instrument for Women, a gender-responsive risk and needs assessment and case planning tool. Staff using the tool report that they are receiving more meaningful feedback from the women regarding establishing their treatment goals.
- La Crosse County, WI Justice Support Services staff will administer the Women's Risk Need Assessment (WRNA) trailer with women who are screened as moderate-high risk starting in January 2015. And in Eau Claire, WI, the WRNA will be conducted during the presentence stage to inform sentencing decisions. The WI DOC plans to implement the WRNA trailer statewide in 2015.
Throughout the year NRCJIW also provided ongoing assistance to Dutchess County, NY and Milwaukee County, WI to implement gender-informed policies and practices at the pretrial stage, including piloting the Inventory of Need (ION), a pretrial assessment tool developed specifically for women. As part of this project, the resource center will document its work with these sites as part of a written brief that will outline issues related to pretrial women.
As always, the NRCJIW continued to work closely with the National Institute of Corrections on all requests for assistance.
The Resource Center continued to identify gaps in current knowledge and research to respond to the needs of practitioners and policymakers who work with justice-involved women. To this end, we developed and disseminated several written documents and tools. These included:
The Resource Center also continued to maintain its website and add research articles and documents to the Resources Section of our website. Check out some of our recently added resources:
In 2014, the website continued to grow, receiving more than one million hits. This represents an increase in hits of 52% since 2013.
Lastly the Resource Center responded to more than 30 information requests and continued to respond to requests from the field via Ask NRCJIW, a feature of the NRCJIW website that allows users to pose questions and receive a written response on any topic related to justice-involved women.
What's Ahead for the NRCJIW in 2015?
We are pleased to announce that the NRCJIW will receive ongoing support from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance in 2015. We look forward to continuing our collaborative partnership with BJA and the National Institute of Corrections.
Visit the NRCJIW website for announcements about new training opportunities, technical assistance and informational resources that will be offered in 2015, including:
- A coaching packet on building and maintaining effective community partnerships to enhance outcomes with women.
- A toolkit on gender-informed practices at the pretrial stage for women offenders that outlines the lessons learned from NRCJIW's work with Dutchess County, NY and Milwaukee County, WI.
- Additional resources developed for jail practitioners on working with justice-involved women.
- National webinars on a variety of topics of interest including the use of restraints with pregnant women.
Targeted onsite training and technical assistance to meet the needs of local jurisdictions including the development of gender-responsive discipline and sanctions policies in women's facilities.
We want to hear from you!
So that we can better serve professionals and practitioners working with justice-involved women, the NRCJIW is seeking input on the NRCJIW's products and services. Please take a few minutes and share your thoughts with us by completing this short survey. Your feedback will help us to better gauge the changing interests of the field and ensure that the resource center remains responsive to the needs of practitioners doing this important work.
Facility Design Incorporating Gender-Responsive Elements
In recent years there has been a push across the country to keep justice-involved women (and men) in their communities, rather than sending them to jail or prison. However, for those women who are incarcerated, a facility that better meets their unique needs as women is the next best option. Maine, New Hampshire and Iowa are at least three states that have in recent years taken on the task of designing or building gender-responsive facilities for women.
A story on the women's prison in Maine was recently featured on New Hampshire Public Radio, including remarks from the architect that designed the facilities in both Maine and New Hampshire and NRCJIW partner, Alyssa Benedict. Click here to listen in.
For additional guidance on this topic, readers are also encouraged to check out two resources on women's facility design from the National Institute of Corrections: