Texas has the 5th highest incarceration rate and one of the largest prison populations in the nation, with women making up nearly a third of those incarcerated, a vast majority of whom were charged for nonviolent crimes. One in five of those women will end up in Harris County upon her release. According to a study by the Legal Action Center, all ex-offenders in Texas face over 32 different legal barriers upon reentry, ranging from employment policies to limitations on public assistance.
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 a two day summit to show community leaders the faces of those struggling with reentry and connect women with the resources they need. The Re:Entry summit, funded in part by Houston Bar Foundation, will take place September 30th to October 1st at United Way Houston, with a job and resource fair for women with criminal histories at South Main Baptist Church the next day. 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 first day of 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. The second day, taking place at South Main Baptist Church will provide women, especially those with criminal records, free access to a job and social services fair as well as a legal clinic tailored to the struggles reentering women face.
“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.