A rising issue within the United States judicial system is the inability of women to be provided with adequate support mechanisms that can assist them in being reintroduced into society. Furthermore, these programs become a necessary part of any prison as female prisoners are easily institutionalized within prisons and face a number of social pressures such as employment, family and health. This paper will evaluate the current programs available that assist women in being integrated back into society and also those women who are approaching their parole date or release from prison. It will additional focus on the number of women currently participating in such programs and whether they are effective currently and in the future (Bloom et al, 2003).

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Overview of Programs to Reintegrate Incarcerated Women

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Within the United States, some of the largest programs for reintegrating incarcerated women are the Key/CREST programs. These programs are nationally based and focus on providing suitable avenues for women to be employed within. They also provide incarcerated women with appropriate drug rehabilitation programs and ensure that upon release, women do not simply resort back to intense drug use and can be provided with some hope and promise. The Key/CREST programs are also nationally recognized and the majority of prisons in the United States provide adequate facilities for these programs to take place (NIJ, 2012). However an issue associated with these programs is attendance rates of incarcerated women as they are mostly optional and women can choose to participate or to rely on their own resources to successfully integrate back into general American society. In California, there is a similar program provided to California based female inmates called “Forever Free”, which goes one step further in providing some residential options for women to spend the first few weeks or months with therapists and other newly released inmates (Bloom et al, 2003). They provide an extensive level of supervision and inmates can start to learn how to live normal and free lives easily and without external pressures such as drug problems.

In regards to incarcerated programs that focus on other external pressures, the national “Seek Safety” program focuses on both women who are currently incarcerated and those that are about to be released and provides educational options for women such as training courses. It also focuses extensively on female safety internal and external to American prisons. It recognizes that incarcerated women have most likely had exposure to a variety of different streams of violence such as assault or domestic violence before, during and after they were incarcerated (NIJ, 2010). It also highlights the need for shelter resources once women are released that can provide a substantial level of support prior to employment and the development of a new and free life. One of the most integral parts of the “Seek Safety” program is its focus on PTSD rehabilitation. This forms part of its residential safety module and allows recently released inmates to be provided with safe residential options and the ability to make friends with others in society (Bloom et al, 2003).

With respect to the number of women who attend these programs, attendance rates are very low at 25% or less throughout most states in the United States. There is limited exposure to these programs in prisons as each prison varies with respect to its procedures and protocols for incarcerated women (Bloom et al, 2003). Programs such as drug rehabilitation and safety courses are not widely accepted or integrated as prisons are overcrowded and states lack adequate resources to fund such programs. Women do not have extensive knowledge of these programs and the focus is on preventing the release of highly violent inmates rather than aiding in their integration back into mainstream society.

In conclusion, this paper has evaluated the largest programs for integration of women back into society within the United States and most significantly, highlighted the need for further development and recognition of these programs They form an essential part of the release program for women in the United States.