Ensuring economic security for women : integrated pre and post release educational and supportive services for women at the Maine Correctional Facility at Windham

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Southern New Hampshire University
The title of this project is Ensuring the Economic Security of Women (EESW). The target population for EESW is women incarcerated at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham; this number totaled 129 as of July 2007. This project specifically targeted those women living in the Women's Unit that are within 6 months of their release date. The intention of EESW was to increase the number of women released from the Maine Correctional Center that are gainfully employed, as well as to increase their ability to save money, acquire assets and build wealth. By doing this, EESW will ultimately improve the financial status of women released from the Maine Correctional Facility, thereby reducing their likelihood of recidivism. To achieve this, EESW endeavored to increase: the number of employers willing to hire formerly incarcerated women; the knowledge of employment opportunities for women; and the number of pre-release job acquisition and retention skills trainings available to women. The project also intended to increase the number of supports available to assist women in maintaining gainful employment, the number of pre-release financial literacy training programs and asset accumulation resources available to women post release. The problem that EESW intended to address is the high incidence of women released from Maine Correctional Center at Windham that have difficulty finding work that provides a livable wage and economic security. The effect of this problem is that a high percentage of women released from the Maine Correctional Center live financially unstable lives. The causes of the problem are the lack of focused pre-release employment and financial literacy skills development, the lack of post-release community support, and discrimination by employers based on women's history. In order to address this problem, its causes and effects, EESW facilitated the following activities: hosting an annual job fair inside the prison; researching and compiling a job opportunities manual for women; hosting training workshops focused on job readiness and financial literacy; and, advocating for the inclusion of women ex-offenders as a special population for outreach within existing community-based service programs. Volunteers of America Northern New England led this effort, and began formal project implementation in June 2007. (Author abstract)