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.
Meet our Newest Innovator: Eau Claire County, Wisconsin’s Alternatives to Incarcerating Mothers (AIM) Court
The Alternatives to Incarcerating Mothers (AIM) Court was started in 2007 to respond more effectively to a growing number of women who were homeless, struggling with alcohol and drug problems, and in need of child welfare services or interventions. In its early years, the AIM Court provided support to women who had minimal involvement in the criminal justice system and who presented as being low risk and having few needs. Over the years, however, the court has incorporated more evidence-based principles into its day to day operations: Currently, AIM Court serves a population of women on probation with higher risk and need profiles and longer criminal justice histories (e.g., habitual misdemeanors and/or felonies). Mothers who have alcohol and other drug abuse (AODA) and/or mental health issues can be referred to the program as a condition of their sentence or as an alternative to revocation.
The goals of the AIM court are to hold these justice-involved mothers accountable while providing a supportive environment and wrap around services to ensure that they get the necessary treatment for their substance abuse disorder and/or mental health condition and are able to continue to successfully parent their children. The AIM Court process includes more intensive case management services and provides gender responsive and trauma-informed programs (such as Moving On, Trauma Recovery and Empowerment, and Thinking for a Change) for women.
The following are some key components of the AIM Court process:
- Willing participants can be referred to the AIM Court by a judge, district attorney, public defender, private attorney, community corrections, jail, or human services staff.
- A specially trained evaluator meets with the woman to conduct an interview and assessments (e.g., COMPAS, URICA, trauma screen, WRNA) to determine eligibility and appropriateness for admission into the court.
- A triage team is responsible for making placement decisions into the AIM Court or one of the other specialty courts in the county (i.e., drug, mental health, veterans). This triage team is multi-disciplinary and includes the four specialty court coordinators, as well as representatives from the Department of Corrections/Community Corrections, district attorney’s office, public defender’s office, jail, and others.
- Throughout the program, the Court staff and other stakeholders that are involved in the woman's recovery meet weekly as a collaborative “treatment team” to discuss the women’s case plans and their progress. The treatment team includes the AIM Court judge, district attorney, court coordinator, jail/work release captain, and treatment provider.
- Participants receive evidence-based treatment services and programming, based on their assessed needs (e.g., cognitive behavioral treatment, trauma services) and are subject to random drug testing.
The AIM Court is supported by several State and County partners including the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, State Public Defenders Office, Eau Claire Department of Human Services, Eau Claire District Attorney’s Office, Eau Claire Circuit Court, and the county’s Criminal Justice Collaborating Council. Recently, the NRCJIW had the opportunity to learn more about the AIM Court and talked with some of the key stakeholders involved in the development of the court and provision of gender responsive services in the County. To read the full innovator profile and learn more about their insights and experiences working with the women involved in the AIM Court and its success, click here.
NRCJIW Webinar Recording and Materials Now Available: “Using Trauma-Informed Approaches with Women Inmates to Enhance Safety and Security in Jail Settings”
Click here to view a recorded version and to access the presentation slides for Using Trauma-Informed Approaches with Women Inmates to Enhance Safety and Security in Jail Settings, a March 11, 2015 webinar co-sponsored by the National Resource Center on Justice Involved Women and the American Jail Association featuring Alyssa Benedict, Executive Director, CORE Associates, LLC. During the session, participants learned about:
For additional information and resources on trauma-informed strategies, contact Alyssa Benedict at 401-837-CORE or email@example.com.
Now Available from the National Institute of Corrections: Online Curriculum on Justice-Involved Women
This e-course, developed by the National Institute of Corrections, provides an overview of research and evidence-based practices and addresses the significance of gender-responsive research on women. The course addresses how the field can advance toward improving outcomes with justice involved women and addresses several specific topics of note, including:
- Who Are Justice-Involved Women?
- Interpersonal Violence
- Effects of Trauma
- Effective Gender-Responsive Practices
- Building Individual and Organizational Resilience
To access these modules, visit the NIC Learning Center.
In the News: Moving Beyond Incarceration in Massachusetts
From the Wellesley Centers for Women, this 2015 Massachusetts Women’s Justice Network (MWJN) Policy Brief is intended to help policy makers and others understand MWJN’s concerns with the state’s bail and pretrial practices for women and to ensure that they are addressed by current legislative and administrative efforts at pretrial reform. Moving Beyond Incarceration for Women in Massachusetts: The Necessity of Bail/Pretrial Reform provides data on bail and pretrial detention for women in Massachusetts along with some key characteristics of the women involved. Recommendations for improvements or adjustments to pretrial approaches for are provided.
Pretrial detention data:
- The annual estimated number of women held in the Awaiting Trial Unit (ATU) increased from 3,075 in 2012 to 3,800 in 2014.
- In February 2014, 43% of the women imprisoned in MCI-Framingham were held pretrial compared to 36% in 2012. The overcrowding situation in the ATU was 439% over capacity.
- In 2012, 36% of the women held in the ATU could not pay bail under $500. Between 77% and 88% of women held in other parts of the state could not pay bail of under $2,000.
- In 2012, women’s inability to pay bail resulted in an average pretrial stay for women of 60-77 days. In 2014 the average length of stay in the ATU at MCI-F increased to 100 days (2014 data not available for Suffolk County and W.MA WCC).
Key characteristics of pretrial women:
- 70% of women were mothers and the primary caretakers of their children when they were admitted.
- Half of the women in the ATU sample were either homeless or had lived with others prior to detention.
- Over 60% of women reported a substance abuse history, with 80% stating they wanted treatment.
- Half of the women have a mental health illness. Their diagnoses include Anxiety/PTSD, Schizophrenia, Depression and Bi-Polar Disorder. Almost three quarters of the women had 2-3 diagnoses.
Click here to read the full article (Erika Kates, Ph.D., Wellesley Centers for Women, Wellesley College).
New Resource: WSPIC Video on Gender Responsive Core Guidelines
From the Women’s Services Practice Improvement Collaborative (WSPIC), this video highlights core treatment guidelines developed by WSPIC and extracted from the larger group of Treatment Guidelines for Gender Responsive Treatment of Women with Substance Use Disorders. While all the treatment guidelines are important for an effective program, these core women’s program guideline areas are features of the program that are fundamental for women’s programs in particular.
Core Women’s Program Guidelines:
- Assessment and Engagement
- Recovery Planning
- Clinical Treatment Program Design
- Recovery Supports
- General Program Environmental Features
- Staff Competencies and Training
- Program Evaluation
The WSPIC webpage also includes documents and tools, such as gender responsive program self-assessment and gender responsive implementation plans. The WSPIC guidelines highlighted on the video are available as a flowchart, full guidelines, core guidelines, and have been modified for programs serving both men and women.
WSPIC is a collaborative of the Connecticut Women's Consortium (CWC), Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), and women's specialty service providers funded by DMHAS.