Prison statistic numbers are escalating at a rapid pace in the United States. There are more than 200,000 women incarcerated today. Two-thirds of women who are in prison are incarcerated for non-violent offenses. Nearly two-thirds of women in prison are mothers and like other poor women in the U.S., women in prison have limited education and employment histories. And once these women are released from prison, the road ahead of them is filled with many hardships.
The Institute on Women & Criminal Justice is a national center for policy, analysis, research and information about criminal justice-involved women, their families and community. The Institute works in conjunction with the Women’s Prison Association (WPA) to help women with criminal justice histories to realize new possibilities for themselves and their families.
All of our programs are designed to reduce the use of incarceration and to help criminal justice-involved women make decisions that support, strengthen and enrich their own lives, and those of their family members.
The WPA provides direct assistance to women and their families in five key areas: livelihood, housing, family, health and well-being, and criminal justice compliance. The programs are brought to the women while they are still in prison and once they are released into the community as well.
The philosophy of the Women’s Prison Association is that every woman has a right to a rich life, despite past mistakes. The staff and volunteers of the WPA help encourage women to look at their past, learn from their mistakes and with support and encouragement–move forward for a productive life.
The history of the WPA is quite interesting. The WPA was founded in January of 1845 as an offshoot of the then Prison Association of New York. The group was founded to investigate conditions of incarcerated women in New York prisons and they found that conditions were far from ideal. From that original group was born the Female Department who worked tirelessly to help incarcerated women at that time to find employment and housing–amidst much poverty and inequality.
Today, the WPA, which evolved from the original organization not only works with incarcerated women but also lobbies for better conditions and for better education within the prison system.
The Women’s Prison Association operates from four community sites within New York. The Hopper House and Sarah Powell Huntington House in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the Reentry Services Center in downtown Brooklyn, and the Brooklyn Community Office in East New York.
The WPA and it’s services are funded by private gifts and donations. If you would like to donate to this worthy organization which helps women become contributing members to society upon release from prison–please donate here.