Housing for Women Exiting Correctional Facilities
Alfreda B. Green
Housing has been an endless barrier to the successful return of ex-offenders into the communities where they live. There are facilities that help men with temporary housing; however, for female ex-offenders transitional housing support does not exist for them. When women are free from prison, they are free to go back to the places where they were formerly influenced to engage in unlawful behaviors again. What would you do or where would you go, if this were you? Having proper resident housing for women exiting from correctional facilities will help in areas needed not only to promote stability but also give them hope that will keep them from returning. Across the nation, there is a lack of programming for females who are involved in the criminal justice system. This has been a mistake of many places because the population of women ex-offenders is not as large as the male population. In addition, males have a higher rate of more violent crimes than women do. Many places focus on the biggest problem, neglecting a problem that is growing alongside it. In this case, it is the female population of offenders (Hardyman, 2004). Is there actually a need for this in Minnesota? Minnesota has ranked the highest on the return rate of offenders to correctional facilities (MN Public Radio, 2011). In order to change this, there needs to be an emphasis on the components that cause offenders to continue criminal behaviors. Research has shown that when we address the issues that influence criminal behaviors, we reduce the probability of re-offence (Minnesota Department of Corrections, 2010). Providing support through housing as well as addressing the individualized needs of ex-offenders such as mental health, work readiness skills, and chemical dependency treatment will transition things for the better. Presently, when women in Winona County are released, they are released right back to the places where they were influenced to engage in criminal behaviors. The same people, the same triggers, and the same lack of resources are still there waiting for them. The particular needs of the women need to be first identified, and then addressed in order to change this. There needs to be a focus on the needs of female ex-offenders in order for them to make the transition into society. Not only do women’s identified needs need to be addressed at the time of release, but also their needs while they are incarcerated. The Women’s Shelter recognizes the diverse needs that women have from male ex-offenders. Understanding these differences will be beneficial to the success of the program. Women are more likely to have involvement in crimes connected to chemical dependency or property crimes. Those crimes usually have underlying chemically dependent motives; otherwise they are motivated by lack of financial resources. When women are involved in violent crimes, usually it is domestic dispute. Many report having been abused, and are repeating the cycle of abuse, or are acting in retaliation to their abuser (Hardyman, 2004). The article, Psychiatric Disorders in Incarcerated Women: Treatment and Rehabilitation needs for Successful Community Reentry suggests a continuum of care is appropriate for success. Research explains the steps incarcerated women need to improve their state of being to a better and healthier life. The researchers indicate that incarcerated women need to deal with the abuse problems that triggered unlawful behaviors. The women who are able to do this are the ones more likely to exit the correctional facility with no reason to return. If the women are educated during incarceration, when released they can continue on to the road of success. However, the sudden release from a structured environment to a non-structured one can prove difficult for transition. There is also a need to have a continuum of support for housing after they complete programming...
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