The Unique Post-prison Challenges Facing Incarcerated Women

CHALLENGES FACING INCARCERATED WOMEN

Life post-incarceration is challenging for everyone, but women face their own distinct set of trials. Unfortunately, both the criminal justice system itself as well as the network of social services intended to help people land on their feet when they are released generally focus on the needs of men.

Incarceration has soared for both genders. For example, between 1978 and 2015, women’s state prison populations grew by 834%, compared to 367% for men. About 1.9 million women are released from prisons and jails each year. This means that about 1 in 8 people released from state prisons is female, and more than 1 in 6 people released from jail is female.

Female Pathways to Incarceration

Women have different pathways to incarceration than men. They are usually convicted of nonviolent property crimes and drug offenses, both of which are strongly linked to poverty and substance use. They usually enter prison with less education and work experience than men.

Once in prison, nearly three-quarters of women in state prisons have self-described mental health issues, compared with 55% of men. Sources estimate that up to 96% of women in the criminal justice system have a history of at least one traumatic event, plus they have higher rates of co-occurring substance abuse issues than men.

The responsibilities of motherhood are another critical factor. About 80% of women in jails and 60% of women in federal and state prisons are mothers.

Women Need Gender-Responsive Services

When they are released from incarceration, justice-involved women often have virtually zero resources at their disposal in terms of money and possessions. They’re often placed on a bus with nothing but the clothes on their back and pocket change, to suddenly face a constellation of challenges, including finding safe, affordable housing; economic marginalization and poverty; overcoming the negative impact of past trauma and substance use disorders; and meeting the needs of their children and families.

Because they have a specific set of needs when they return to civilian life, they require gender-responsive services to help stop the cycle of incarceration among women.

It’s also important to recognize how many abstract challenges recently released prisoners face. After years without making any decisions and with little personal autonomy, it’s overwhelming to be dropped into the fast-paced, complicated world of day-to-day living. Navigating technology and bureaucracy with minimal resources is challenging under the best of circumstances, and it’s even harder for traumatized people forced to jump in without a net.

Tech Dump Supports the Post-Incarcerated

Tech Dump is dedicated to offering a safety net to recently released prisoners of all gender identities.

Our 18-month work readiness program employs adults who have a history of incarceration or who are in recovery from an addiction. We recognize “that everything has value and everyone has value,” says Amanda LaGrange, CEO of Tech Dump and Tech Discounts. By supporting the formerly incarcerated with a good job and teaching them skills that will help them earn a living wage, we help both women and men escape the cycle of poverty and incarceration.

A criminal record is unfortunately a common barrier to employment and housing. By teaching marketable skills and creating employment opportunities for people who want to work, learn a vocational skill, and invest in themselves, we offer them a chance to develop a secure future.

Our on-the-job training helps our employees learn the fundamentals of work and social interaction. Some people have little work history, so we teach basic work habits such as showing up punctually, listening to a boss, and getting along with coworkers.

Your Contributions Matter

Jobs are a critical foundation to financial independence, and essential to breaking cycles of poverty, substance use disorders, and incarceration. With every purchase from or donation to Tech Dump and Tech Discounts, you’re not only helping keep valuable resources out of the waste stream – you’re also helping us reinforce the value of every human being benefiting from our jobs program.