Recently, the Council of State Governments Justice Center—a national nonprofit organization that provides nonpartisan advice and evidence-based strategies to policymakers—released a memo from the Federal Interagency Reentry Council on the need to strengthen reentry programs for female offenders.
All offenders face challenges upon returning to their communities from jail or prison, including finding work and reintegrating into family and community life. Reentry programs, such as BI Incorporated’s day reporting centers, aim to help offenders develop skills that will help them overcome these challenges. However, the Federal Interagency Reentry Council reports that unique issues confront female offenders, and currently, many reentry centers are not equipped to effectively deal with these issues.
According to the Reentry Council, many female offenders struggle with substance abuse and mental health problems that stem from physical or sexual abuse. A trauma-informed behavioral health component is necessary to rehabilitate offenders struggling with these specific problems, yet many state and local reentry programs lack such a component. Similarly, female offenders with children need stronger programs designed to help them successfully reestablish relationships with their children.
Reentry Council agencies across the country are currently taking steps to help female offenders overcome the unique challenges they face. Such measures include:
- Holding listening sessions with female offenders, as well as consultations with experts in order to identify the numerous barriers women face during the reentry process.
- Supporting the growth of evidence-based and research-informed practices, in addition to disseminating information about these practices.
- Adding more community-based programs that serve women to the National Institute of Correction’s searchable directory.
- Building a database of intermediary networks that focus on improving outcomes for female offenders.
BI Incorporated supports the Federal Interagency Reentry Council’s mission to enhance community safety, assist those returning from prison in becoming productive citizens, and save taxpayer dollars by lowering the costs of incarceration.