There’s increased numbers of women in the criminal justice system. For example, in the state of Virginia, there were 500 more female offenders confined at the end of fiscal year FY2015 as there were at the end of FY2011, an increase of nearly 18%.
The female release population is growing as well. There were 236 more female offenders released from incarceration in FY2015 than there were in FY2011, representing an increase of 17%. The annual cost to confine an individual in state prison is more than $25,000, with inflated health care costs for the increasing numbers of prisoners over the age of 50. Virginia spends roughly $1.5 billion a year to operate crowded jails and prisons. Eighty nine percent of ex-prisoners are not employed when reoffending.
And noteworthy, there are limited post-incarceration resources for single parent women. The major issues that women face after release from being incarcerated are:
-Re-establishing a home and family life, including regaining legal and physical custody of children.
-Finding affordable housing and meeting other basic needs.
-Securing employment that pays a sufficient income.
-Creating a new social network that may or may not include intimate relationships.
-Fulfilling the multiple conditions of a parole plan, including continued sobriety, from alcohol & drug addiction.
-Negotiating the stigmatized perception of women ex-offenders by the general.
-Public, potential employers, landlords, and community members.
I believe one of the key solutions to addressing this problem of increasing numbers of women in the criminal justice system is through Training and Education. There’s a need for “offender and gender-specific” classes and courses that target women offenders, and is designed to address their unique real-world issues. These classes and courses should assist with family reunification, helping to meet housing needs, accessing community resources, post-release treatment, and providing the skills/tools necessary for gainful employment.
Keep It Movin, Inc. (K.I.M.) is focused on providing and improving the lives of women struggling with incarceration which causes lack of employability. K.I.M.’s Project A was designed and created specifically to address the unique needs of previously-incarcerated women. It is a comprehensive 90-minute, 8-week cognitive-behavioral program that focuses on the premise that thoughts cause feelings and external behaviors. It will assist with uncovering distortions in thinking and irrational assumptions about situations that can lead to inappropriate behavior. It will also provide them with the edge necessary to succeed in what can be a very competitive and challenging economy by providing them with the tools to live a better life, realize their strengths, and make a step toward change.
We are committed to helping female offenders learn new ways of thinking and behaving, as well as hope to create a stronger community by giving our women a solid foundation for future success. We envision a world in which all young women regardless of race, ethnicity, income level, or social status are nurtured and empowered to reach their fullest potential.