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Crossing Fences

Crossing Fences

Crossing Fences-Justice for Incarcerated Women

The 365 Foundation’s 2024 initiative for creating a commission to research the needs of incarcerated women is a commendable and much needed initiative. Understanding and addressing the unique challenges faced by incarcerated women is crucial for promoting their well-being and ensuring fair treatment within the criminal justice system.

We have found some existing efforts and research related to incarcerated women’s needs:

  1. Urban Institute’s Research: The National Institute of Justice funded the Urban Institute and its partners to conduct a national scan of practiceThis study examined the extent to which correctional facilities provide services and programming that address incarcerated women’s prior and current trauma and victimization experiences1. The findings from such research can inform policy and program development.
  2. New Jersey Commission on Women’s Reentry: New Jersey legislated the NJ Commission on Women’s Reentry to address the needs of pregnant incarcerated women and all incarcerated women. This multidisciplinary group actively focuses on women’s health care while in prison and during reentry into their communities2.
  3. Prison Policy Initiative: The Prison Policy Initiative has curated research about women in the criminal justice system. Their work sheds light on various aspects of women’s experiences, including health care, family connections, and reentry opportunities3.
  4. U.S. Commission on Civil Rights: The commission studied issues impacting incarcerated women, including deprivations of medical needs. Their focus on adequate medical care for all prisoners highlights the importance of addressing women’s specific health needs4.
  5. Department of Justice (DOJ): The DOJ’s new plans emphasize communication between incarcerated women and their families, treatment for mental illness and substance abuse, and creating women-specific reentry opportunities5.

 

As we proceed with establishing this commission, we will consider collaborating with experts, advocates, and directly impacted individuals to ensure a comprehensive and informed approach. Research findings can guide evidence-based policies and practices that promote justice, rehabilitation, and support for incarcerated women.

This summer we will launch our “Voices from the Inside” Podcast, spotlighting the many women in our local county prisons who want to share their stories and find their voice. This will also include women who work at these institutions to educate and promote compassion and understanding.