The Women's Prison Association has existed for 150 years because of our commitment to our clients and our ability to adapt to their changing needs. In the last decade, the change has been startling: the number of people in prison has doubled and the number of women in prison has increased sixfold.
Despite this remarkable growth in the number of women in prison, few social service agencies recognized or served the unique needs of female offenders. These are not "dangerous women" - they are, in the majority, women with substance abuse problems who are charged with drug-related crimes. And, the majority of them have children who suffer as a result of their mother's criminal justiceinvolvement.
To respond to these crises, in 1990 the Women's Prison Association updated our mission statement and set about "reinventing" ourselves. Our goal is to provide holistic intervention that bridges the systems currently serving our clients.
WPA created three new programs through which women are able to acquire life skills needed to end involvement in the criminal justice system and to make positive healthy choices for themselves and their families.
The Sarah Powell Huntington House, a transitional residence, gives women in the criminal justice system the chance to rebuild their families with the help of intensive counseling, parenting skills training, and family support services.
Finally, the Transitional Services Unit helps incarcerated and newly released women plan for their future and obtain health care, housing, and other services for themselves and their children. By expanding our funding base to include a wide range ofgovemmental revenue sources, we have been able to successfully focus on the interrelated needs of our clients.
We also educate the public and bring attention to more effective ways of working with female offenders. In 1990, WPA founded the Women's Justice Alliance, a coalition of more than 150 public and private agencies committed to improving programs and public policy for criminal justice involved women. WPA has also undertaken other advocacy efforts with a special focus on the needs of children of incarcerated mothers.
As we write this report on our first 150 years, there is new leadership at the city, state and federal levels. We experience considerable uncertainty about the future. And yet, we are confident that we will be guided by the spirit of the Women's Prison Association and our partnership with the women we serve and the community that supports us.
Ann Jacobs, 1995
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