Issues & Resources

Walking Resource Guide

A guide for reentry resources located within walking distance of the Pierce County Jail.

Tacoma/Pierce County Re-entry Resources

A web-based clearinghouse of useful resources in Tacoma and Pierce County for people making the transition from prison or jail to community life. Although designed to assist formerly incarcerated individuals, their families, and others who support them, many of the resources address basic needs.

Challenges of Re-entering the Community after Prison

A report by the Institute on Women & Criminal Justice shows that female imprisonment in the U.S. has increased 757 percent since 1977. Women are the fastest-growing segment of the prison population, surpassing male prison population growth in all 50 states.Recent research on women in the criminal justice system reveals four distinct themes regarding personal and social problems that contribute to criminal behavior in women:

  • Most women in the criminal justice system come from neighborhoods entrenched in poverty and largely lacking in viable systems of social support. Many have not completed high school and most have limited vocational training and sporadic work histories.
  • Alarmingly large numbers of these women have experienced very serious physical and/or sexual abuse, often starting when they were young children.
  • As adults, most of these women have high levels of physical and mental health problems as well as substance abuse issues. Often these problems are combined and compounded.
  • The great majority of the women who have suffered from these deprivations, histories of trauma and abuse, and health deficits are mothers—and they are far more likely than men in the criminal justice system to be the sole support and caregivers for their children.

Obstacles to Successful Re-entry

  • Reestablishing a home and family life, including regaining legal and physical custody of children.
  • Finding affordable housing and meeting other basic needs.
  • Securing employment that pays a sufficient income.
  • Creating a new social network.
  • Fulfilling the multiple conditions of a parole plan, including continued sobriety, if not recovery, from alcohol or drug addiction.
  • Negotiating the stigmatized perception of women ex-prisoners by the general public-potential employers, landlords, and community members.

from: The Women and Prison project

Simple Solutions?

No. The diversity and tenacity of these problems call for a multifaceted approach to re-entry support. However, safe, decent, and affordable housing is critical to the well-being of women after they are released from prison. For many, it is risky to return to the environment they were in before incarceration. In a structured setting such as Irma Gary House or Ann Flagg Cottage, women have a better chance at employment, maintaining sobriety, and escaping cycles of abuse and recidivism.

Offering transitional, residential housing along with effective case management is one of the many ways our community can help formerly incarcerated women begin the process of rebuilding their lives. Each step toward success is supported and celebrated as a small victory at New Connections.