Wesleyan College in Prison Program

Wesleyan University has developed a program that will allow male prisoners in a Connecticut penitentiary to gain college credit.  The college-in-prison program is accredited, allowing faculty and students from the college to teach for-credit courses to inmates.  Wesleyan students are also running a program at a local women’s prison.  However, this program is not yet accredited, and consists of workshops rather than college classes.  The hope is that the accredited program will be expanded to the women’s prison in the future. Wesleyan faculty and students hope that this will provide an example to other schools to follow suit.

What a really great program! In Alabama, it is estimated that 1/2 of female prisoners do not have a GED, most averaging around a 10th grade education.  Though there are programs in place that allow inmates to receive their GED, there are no programs that allow any further scholarly education.  

Allowing inmates to take accredited college courses has the potential to really raise their level of efficacy.  Once these prisoners are released, they have the tools to do much more than they could have without further education.  It could also give a sense of empowerment, as they have the opportunity to study topics, readings, etc. that they would not have had access to otherwise.  

One of AWRN’s goals is to help women form reentry plans that will enable them to immerse themselves in the community, in hopes that they will not fall into the same habits that got them arrested in the first place.  Programs like these would definitely give inmates a great opportunity to get involved in the betterment of the community and themselves. 

To read this entire article, click here.


Over 1300 Days of Freedom

Over 1300 days of freedom were gained today for a woman granted parole by Alabama’s Parole Board. AWRN is happy to have been a part of her reentry plan development and parole hearing advocacy. All the best to her and her family as she moves forward toward achieving her goals.  She is an incredible, strong woman who is ready to build on her progress and we are proud to have the opportunity to be a part of her life. 

So far this month, AWRN’s Parole Advocacy Project has gained a total of more than 3,000 days of freedom for four imprisoned women in Alabama.

AWRN would also like to express its gratitude to Aid to Inmate Mothers with whom we partnered on advocacy plans for three women.

If you would like to find out more about becoming involved in AWRN’s Parole Advocacy Project, please contact us at crodenjones@awrn.org.

A Sign of Success to Come

As AWRN has said before, a parole hearing is an event that has been a long time coming for women in prison preparing for and awaiting the day they will be released. 

AWRN will be holding a training in early October for community-active citizens and providers willing to be the link between a woman and prison and her community at the point of reentry and beyond (more information can be found here).

Yesterday, AWRN and Aid to Inmate Mothers teamed up to advocate for the release of three parole candidates.  We are happy to report that through the women’s progress in prison, their successful reentry planning and preparation, and through community support from providers and community members across the state, all three women were granted parole.

AWRN believes yesterday’s success is a sign of the hard work and confidence of Alabama’s imprisoned women, as well as a product of Alabama’s commitment to strengthening its communities through resource sharing and advocacy.

We extend special thanks to Alabama’s Parole Board Members who saw how diligently the women have worked in prison on the range of factors that led them to prison.  Their confidence in the continued success of all three candidates was hard-earned and appreciated.

Parole Hearing Info Now on Our Site!

AWRN is proud to announce that we have put together our resources in order to create a list of things to expect at Alabama parole hearings! This list includes many facts about the hearing procedure, things to prepare ahead of time, as well as general information on what to expect. 

We hope that this will be a valuable resource for anyone who has questions about the Alabama parole process.  If you have any additional questions, please contact AWRN or you can search the Alabama Board of Paroles and Pardons website. 

The link to the parole page is listed under “Pages” on our  home page, or you can click the following link:  “What to Expect at a Parole Hearing.” 

Utah: Female Incarceration Rates Decreasing

Utah has seen a recent drop in female inmate numbers due to several reentry preparation programs offered at prison.  Though the prison system lacks much federal spending for such programs, the community has proven to help fill the gaps by providing services to inmates.  Everything from becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister, to helping inmates create resumes or finding housing promotes the betterment of inmates and therefore their communities. 

65 to 75 percent of released prisoners return to prison at some point. But when they go through some form of programming, the figure plummets to about 30 percent. “We owe it to these women to make sure they have access to the resources necessary to reconstruct their lives.”

This is a great example of how you can get involved to help incarcerated women’s lives, as well as your community!  To read this entire article, click here

California’s Technical Violation Policy–Lessons for Alabama?

In an opinion piece published in yesterday’s NY Times, the point was made that, 

The heart of the problem is California’s poorly designed parole system. A vast majority of states use parole to supervise serious offenders who require close monitoring. California has historically put just about everyone on parole. According to a federally backed study released last year, more people are sent to prison in California by parole officers than by the courts, and nearly half of those people go back on technical violations like missed appointments and failed drug tests.

According to the 2009 Alabama Sentencing Commission report, in FY 2008,

1,546 probationers and parolees were revoked for technical violations, i.e., violating conditions of supervision other than commission of a new offense such as failure to report, failing drug tests, curfew violations, and late reporting.  The establishment of a Technical Violation Center for the next fiscal year is recommended…During FY 08, 347 parolees and 1,199 probationers were revoked…These persons have been returned to prison and can only be released via a parole consideration hearing by the Board or at expiration of sentence.  These numbers constitute a significant percentage of the new prison admissions each month and typically remain in the prison system for more than one year, at a cost of $15,136.55 per inmate. The [Technical Violation Center] facility would incorporate programs similar to those of the transition centers, but in a secure facility.  Success in the program would lead to reinstatement of probation and parole in a 60-90 period. 

NC Women’s Prison to Close

A specialized women’s facility in North Carolina is scheduled to close due to state budget cuts.  This facility, though quite small, gave female prisoners the opportunity to work and effectively prepare themselves for re-entry.  Now, the inmates will be sent to a minimum security prison where it is unlikely they will receive work release options, nor other benefits like those at the Wilmington institution.  Superintendent Laura Overstreet made the following comment: 

“I just want lives to change,” she said. “If lives don’t change, we’re wasting money, we’re wasting time. That’s what’s so tragic. It worked. Women got out of here with jobs. They got out of here with money. They had tools to succeed, and by and large they did.”

If you would like to read more on this article, click here.