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DEFENDER | DECEMBER 8 | 2016

INVISIBLE BLA WOMEN

Life After Incarc By JASEMINE KNOWLES and RENEE SMITH |

W

ith more and more women coming through the criminal justice system, life after prison can prove a challenge – especially for Black women. These challenges center around re-establishing a home and family life and receiving an education and a job, all while facing the stigmatized perception of female “ex-offenders” by the general public, including potential employers, landlords, and communities. According to the American Civil Liberty Union, women of color are significantly overrepresented in the criminal justice system. Black women make up over 30 percent of the incarcerated women in the U.S., even though they represent only 13 percent of the female population. The NAACP review of the incarcerated population reflects African-Americans now constitute nearly one million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated. More alarming, the report states one of every 100 Black women are in prison and away from their children, potentially causing a perpetual cycle of women and youth incarceration. Texas ranks number nine out of the top ten states of women incarcerated with over 93,000 women in prison, according to the Sentencing Project. Jason Clark, the director of public information at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice states 2,775 Black women were released from Texas prisons in 2015. In addition, 70,000 females in Texas are on supervised parole or probation programs, both of which are alternatives to incarceration. Probation occurs prior to and often instead of jail or prison time, however, parole is an early release from prison. While on probation, a defendant can be ordered to pay a fine, court costs, restitution, and any court appointed attorney fees. The length of time that a person is on probation can range from one year to ten years. Many states will cap the length of time that a person can remain on probation. Parole may release a person from jail time but according to Free Advise Legal, parolees may still be subject to many of the same conditions as someone in jail. An individual under parole must abide by curfew rules, be required to participate in rehab programs, and drug testing by urinalysis. Conditions of parole may include requiring a defendant to stay in a halfway house and continue paying fines and other financial obligations. While parole and probation helps former female inmates stay out of prison, it does very little to assist these women in re-adjusting to society. However, there are a number of organizations based in Houston that have a solution.

Naomi’s House (NH) NH is a transitional home whose mission is to decrease

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recidivism by encouraging individual responsibility and accountability, promoting entrepreneurship and developing life skills. To do this, they offer what is called the 90 Day Fresh Start Entrepreneur program (FSE). Launched in January of 2015, the FSE program offers a fourpart comprehensive training on becoming an entrepreneur and instruction on career development. The program was developed to teach ex-offenders ownership and responsibility of their own dreams and passions based on the book Whatever You Do, Brand You written by Michelle Hardin, program founder. “We service the Lockhart Prison for three hours once a month in a full training. Once the ladies complete the four-part training, we host a business writing competition and graduation. All the ladies that attend all sessions receive a certificate and ten are chosen to present their business plan in front of business owners,” Hardin said. Since beginning, Hardin said she has mentored over 390 incarcerated women and enrolled 14 others into the program. With a 98 percent success rate, women are now finding career and job development success, enrolled and/or completing educational tracks, gaining employment beyond fast food entities, regaining custody of their children, and building their confidence in a better life. More info visit: thenaomishouse.global/ or call (877) 331-7106

City of Houston Re-entry The City of Houston Health Department developed an

in off co job readiness/development an training to stabilize the partic and self-sufficient. “Each class is presented that clients can join in the co another. The service linkage referral to a client to get thei said Robinson. “This includes attainment benefits and housing applicati Card application through the H clinics to receive a medical ho eases such as Hypertension, D Clients are also assigned counselor who will provide an individualized treatmen a variety of mental health s appointments, medication intervention. “The final component is t include pre-employment serv mock interviews to job placem clients do not have any needs ment,” said Robinson. For more information email hd (832) 393-5467

defendernetwork.com • Serving th

Houston Defender: December 08, 2016  

Houston's Leading Black Information Source.

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