The majority of re-entry programs that currently exist in our state target men and do not offer the full range of support and services necessary for successful transition back to our communities. Experts are finding that traditional methods for rehabilitating a historically male-dominated prison population need to be reevaluated to fit the needs of female inmates, who respond differently to treatment than their male counterparts and face different challenges.
Many formerly incarcerated women lack a high school degree and may have substance abuse or other chronic health problems such as HIV, Aids, tuberculosis, or mental health issues that haven’t been adequately addressed during incarceration. Most significantly, a majority of women coming out of prison have no home to return to or, if they do, those homes are located in troubled communities where individuals fall right back into the activities that landed them in prison in the first place. Transitional housing capacity is lacking in most states, including North Carolina. These women often are unmarried and were receiving welfare before their incarceration. Recent studies have shown that the majority of inmates are being released without vocational and educational preparation. Following release from prison, inmates are moved directly from a very controlled environment to a low level of supervision or complete freedom that often results in heightened stress before and during re-entry. Finally, women released from prison have very limited access to treatment for substance abuse and health problems that exacerbate the difficulty of finding employment and housing and interfere with family reunification.