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Gender-Responsive Policies and Practices in Maine: What Incarcerated Women at the Women's Center Say They Need From the Criminal Justice System

NCJ Number
Jillian Foley
Lisa Morris
Date Published
August 2012
42 pages
Based on the discussions of 3 focus groups composed of 18 residents of Maine's Women's Center, this report discusses what works well at the Women's Center, what does not work, and the women's recommendations for how policies could be improved to better meet their needs.
The Women's Center is a gender-responsive facility that houses 70-80 women at the Correctional Facility in Windham, ME. The women expressed their desire for an environment where they feel safe, respected, and empowered to change their lives for the better. In addition, they wanted more attention to and participation in reentry planning that includes assistance in finding services and supports in the community where they will live upon release. They also want job training. For many of the women, the most powerful motivation to change was to become a responsible family member, which for many requires family reunification planning. In order to address these expressed needs, gender-responsive policies and practices must be developed and consistently implemented. Recommendations pertain to the development of a gender-responsive positive touching policy among peers; development of a gender-responsive policy for passing and receiving items; revision of work assignment policies; implementation of policies that address a wide range of needs, which are listed; creation of more opportunities for residents to participate in pro-social activities; and revise visitation policies. Recommendations also address the strengthening and revision of reentry planning policies and practices; the development of gender-responsive health-care policies; building upon the skills and strengths of the residents; and the development of partnerships with local community organizations and colleges in providing services and reducing funding needs. Appended theme codes for focus groups and the focus-group script