Texas has the largest prison populations in the United States. In 2014, 12,214 of those incarcerated were women, and of those women, 8,550 served a previous sentence. Ex-offenders face a multitude of legal and social barriers that inhibit them from successfully re-entering society. A study by the Legal Action Center found that Texas has over 32 different laws restricting released prisoners, ranging from employment policies to limitations on public assistance. These barriers increase the likelihood of relapse and recidivism among individuals with criminal records. One in five women released in Harris County will receive insufficient support in overcoming these barriers.
Women reentering society face additional challenges that are often overlooked including a lack of job skills, need for family housing, and difficulty finding employers offering positions conducive to childcare responsibilities. These challenges combined with a lack of resources and support put women with criminal records at higher risk of homelessness, mental illness, and addiction than their male counterparts.
This obvious need is why The Women’s Home will be hosting an all day summit to show community leaders the faces of those struggling with reentry. The Re:Entry summit, funded in part by Houston Bar Foundation, will take place September 30th United Way Houston. Partnering with local organizations, the summit will address issues including housing, job skills, the children our incarceration system leaves behind and research supported alternatives to the traditional prison system.
The summit will have education panels featuring local experts and policy makers who are advocating for fair and accessible resources for those with criminal histories. This portion of the summit will focus on educating service providers, community leaders, and local businesses about the challenges women previously incarcerated face when reentering society.
“We see these struggles everyday with many of the clients we serve, and we hope this summit serves as a way to address the problems, while directly helping the women who will be attending,” Marcia Tapp, Director of Resource Development for The Women’s Home said.