Challenges Incarcerated Women Face as They Return to Their Communities: Findings From Life History Interviews*
Intellectual and public policy discussions regarding prisoner reentry, probation or parole services, and the impact of incarceration on community life more generally, have failed to incorporate the specific challenges that incarcerated women face as they return to their communities. Although women constitute a small fraction of the total population involved in the criminal justice system in the US, the number of arrests and incarcerations of women is growing at rates significantly higher than for men. The thematic patterns described in this chapter focus on how neighborhood conditions, community resources, and public policies affect women's ability to successfully reintegrate into their community upon release from jail or prison. Advocates and service providers agree that substance abuse treatment is one of the most significant needs for women returning to their communities from jails and prisons. Medical problems and health care needs were among the most common challenges described during the interviews.