This paper describes the work of Taryn House in South Australia, which operates as a halfway house for released women inmates in providing them housing and guidance in coping with and adjusting to life in the community after prison.
Many of the women who reside at Taryn House have long histories of failure in other shelter placements, in part due to the rigidity of service criteria and rules that stem, in part, from their disruptive behaviors. Their particular needs include recognition of the traumatic and disorienting nature of being released into the community. Grief is experienced from the loss of friendships and a lifestyle established in prison. They face difficulties in re-establishing relationships with children, partners, and other family members. There may be difficulty in making new friends and in coping with the demands of daily life. In addition, they must find somewhere to live without having the financial resources to purchase basic household necessities. The tendency is to return to the same social networks they had before prison, and they are vulnerable to using the same negative coping strategies (i.e., drug use) they used before entering prison. Taryn House encourages women to assume responsibility for their own lives and to make responsible choices. Taryn House creates choices and opens doors. The residents must decide whether they will take advantage of the opportunities offered. Taryn House provides a community within the community where ex-inmates' particular struggles are recognized and understood, and they are challenged to address life in the community in a constructive and responsible way.
Australian Institute of Criminology
GPO Box 2944, Canberra ACT, 2601 Australia, Australia
Paper presented at the Women in Corrections: Staff and Clients Conference held in Adelaide, Australia, October 31-November 1, 2000. Downloaded March 21, 2001