“A Woman’s Journey Home: Challenges for Female Offenders and Their Children”, written in 2002, is an excellent publication, from the Urban Institute (published by the Dept of HHS), devoted to the challenges facing women returning from prison. Written by Stephanie S. Covington, PhD, LCSW, then Co-director of the Center for Gender & Justice, this study focuses on women’s issues and the inherent bias that effects women in prison and when returned to the community.
It should be noted that a number of Drug Courts and other Problem-Solving Courts have developed special tracks, both in the courtroom and treatment and rehabilitation programs in the community, that recognize the special needs and interests of women. The first such program that I became aware of was established in 1993, by Judge William Schma, a drug court pioneer, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Judge Schma, was a powerful advocate for the separation of women from men in Drug Court. He argued that women become invisible in the presence of male participants, and the ability of both sexes to focus on their rehabilitation was compromised. I believe that he is and was correct on both counts.
In the field of Reentry Courts, one program stands out in this regard. The Second Chance Women’s Re-entry Court program in Los Angeles, established by Judge Michael Tynan, is an exceptonal program serving over 200 women in Los Angeles County.