The Reality

Every year, thousand of women are released from state and federal prisons. Reentry services for these women are sorely lacking. Many have no choice but to return to the communities they left and situations that facilitated their incarceration. Often, these communities lack services to address the problems that formerly incarcerated women have to deal with such  as substance abuse, mental illness, lack of job skills, and lack of access to the legal system to solve complex issues such as child custody cases. One study, “A Higher Hurdle: Barriers to Employment for Incarcerated Women,” found that “a criminal record has a negative impact on employment opportunities of women.” Formerly incarcerated women are significantly less likely than women who haven’t served time to receive a positive response from potential employers and face a number of mental, financial, and physical barriers to seeking and retaining employment. This contributes to a high rate of recidivism: approximately 75% of women who are released are rearrested. In addition, recent surveys of parole officers show that more of them give high priority to the law enforcement function of parole, rather than its service or rehabilitation function.