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Improving Access to Services for Female Offenders Returning to the Community

NCJ Number
NIJ Journal Issue: 269 Dated: March 2012 Pages: 18-23
Date Published
March 2012
6 pages
Publication Series
This assessment of the Federal Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative (SVORI) focuses on improving access to services for female offenders returning to the community.
SVORI has provided funding to State and local jurisdictions for the development of reentry strategies for offenders. A multi- year, multisite evaluation of SVORI has been conducted in order to examine the effect its programs have had on access to reentry services and programs that address housing, education, employment, and criminal behavior. This evaluation includes a sample of 357 adult women in 11 States. These women and their reentry experiences are the focus of this article. An experimental group (n=153) received services funded by SVORI, and 57 percent of the women (n=204) received treatment as usual instead of SVORI- funded services and programs. Women in both the experimental and control groups indicated their highest reentry needs were in the areas of employment, education, and life skills (79 percent), as well as services intended to assist with the transition from prison to the community. Findings on the impact of the additional SVORI services for the experimental group were mixed. These women showed significant improvement in the areas of employment and substance use compared with non-SVORI women. There were no significant differences in the groups, however, regarding services received in relation to housing, family and peer relationships, physical and mental health, and recidivism. Although SVORI women received a higher level of substance-for both groups the longer the women were out of prison. The evaluation concludes that the delivery of services for SVORI participants, although greater overall, failed to match the participants' level of need in the areas of mental and physical health, family responsibilities, and lack of work experiences. Levels of unmet need remained high, even after 15 months in the community. 3 notes

Date Published: March 1, 2012