Re-entry Barriers to Success for Women Parolees


The state and the federal correctional institutions progressivelyrelease records of numbers of offenders in millions on parole everyear. According to the Urban Institute (2015), there is a steadyincrease in the number of women released on parole. The institutionsconduct the release in hopes that the offenders will return to thesociety and be successful again. However, disturbing statisticsreveals that 37% of the released female offenders end up reconvictedfor breaking the parole regulations or committing new crimes (UrbanInstitute, 2015). This figure implies that released women prisonersface challenges while trying to fit again in their respectivesocieties. Unfortunately, most cases the communities do not receivethe women offenders well. Consequently, the women lack the requiredsupport to re-integrate themselves into their respective societiesand live a productive, law-abiding life (Covington, 2012). This paperdiscusses the challenges that women ex-offenders face during re-entryas related to securing employment and education opportunities.

Over the past years since 1980’s, some states permanently bannedwomen parolees from either public housing or employment (Jones,2011). In some states such as California, women parolees are notallowed to work in nursing, physical therapy or real estate’s(Flower, 2012). Legislation prevents these parolees from securingcertain job opportunities due to the nature of the offenses. While itis agreeable, such rules warrant exclusion of women from occupationsthat deal with children yet that is what typically or naturally linksto them. This exclusion is in self a source of numerous barriers toany open job opportunities that the women parolees might come across.It is difficult to establish a justification blanket leave aloneprobation that will assist them in acquiring a vacancy (Whittemore,2012). Applicants for available job opportunities tend to facepunishment for the past offences instead of a review of theirperformance. Similarly, some learning institutions avoid enrollingstudents with criminal records for the fear of the impact they cancause to other students (Covington, 2012). To prevent society andguardians blame they do away with the enrolment of women offenders onparole. Exclusion of many job opportunities and ban of enrolment fromother learning institutions leave women parolees with limited optionsand high chances of returning to crime.

With a slew challenges that affect their ability to obtain a house,women fail to reintegrate into the society. Difficulty in securinghousing hinders the women’s ability to find employment andeducation opportunities. A stable housing keeps learning flexible andfavourable while it maintains employment and education connections(Holtfreter &amp Wattanaporn, 2013).A Woman offender on parole needsphysical addresses and telephone numbers as one of the jobapplication requisites to enhance employment opportunities (Flower,2012). Families are unable to provide housing options especially forwomen offenders who return from incarceration. Besides, the federalgovernment and correctional institution have not fully set asidehousing plans for women offenders with difficulty in re-acceptance.Homeless shelters are typically not safe for women due to restrictionn in privacy making it difficult for women to resettle. Thissituation adds up to feelings of instability that shuts downpotential learning opportunities (Jones, 2011). In addition, economichindrances further complicate the women’s mental and physicalproblems that haunt them as ex-offenders. Untreated conditionsjeopardise their position to seek for new job employments as well ascontinue learning.

Women who are out of prison face life differently from other womenbecause they have been deprived of many supports and skills to adaptto the community life. While serving for the offenses committed, thecommunity or the society keeps on advancing without them (Holtfreter&amp Wattanaporn, 2013). Technology moves fast, the economy growsand curricular changes. Re-entering prisoners have to invest in muchtime perhaps in education as well to catch up with all the changesbecause while at the prison they did not keep up with any of thetrends. They come out with insignificant work histories or workskills (Whittemore, 2012). Also, the former job experience willprobably not help much due to the time elapse while in prison.Employers are strict to employ only those who qualify for the jobpositions because they look for up-to-date academic documents to gowith the most recent experience (Flower, 2012). Lack of self-supportespecially in terms the relevant skills and experience throw womeninto desperate actions that eventually violate the parole regulationsor break the law anew.

Right out of prison, women lack savings and entitlement to socialservices. Some of the released women, nonetheless, are lucky enoughaccepted in their families with sufficient support. Some receivefinancial support from close relatives and friends for a while asthey try breaking the ground again (Holtfreter &amp Wattanaporn,2013). Finding job opportunities mean moving from one potentialemployer to another or sending CVs, which costs money that theycannot afford. More so, society stigma arising from the criminalrecords discourages their moral in searching for job opportunities.The parole officer being on the lookout often limits the women toexceed geographical boundaries in search of work. It is hard orrather rare to find an employer who can give second chances toreleased women (Whittemore, 2012). Many employers turn them down dueto fear of their past records of crime. Lack of financial support,lack of trust to community, records of crime and rejection frompotential employers pose women to high risks of returning to crimessuch as prostitution and drug dealing in a bid to raise money tosupport them.

The time spent in prison usually weakens a woman’s family bond andcommunity ties. An essential part of the women’s life is the familyunion and playing a good role model to their children (Covington,2012). When this bond weakens, women become vulnerable to attentionor concentration requiring technicality. This situation affects anyongoing learning opportunity or prevents the acquisition of a newone. Upon their release, there is no one to guide their transitionsave for the parole officer who constantly monitors them. Accordingto Whittemore (2012), female parolees lack care and access toservices that encourage re-incarceration. Released women prisonershave a hard time creating an educational plan from where they hadstopped.

Lack of sufficient guide that prepare the society to receive femaleoffenders on parole relays stigma that affects productivity andforward movement. The legal community fails to consider many openingsfor women parolees by resting some job opportunities and mandatingprofessional licenses. Many employers are not willing to employwomen facing paroles or with past criminal records because they askfor mandatory moral conduct certificate. Where considered, theemployers need an up-to-date resume, skills and experience that manywomen offenders on parole do not have. Lack of financial supportcreates barriers to access desired education. The women who becomelucky whether educated or not also suffer from weakened family bonds,physical and mental health that affect their studies and the eventualoutcome.


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Holtfreter, K., &amp Wattanaporn, K. (2013). TheTransition from Prison to Community Initiative: An Examination ofGender Responsiveness for Female Offender Reentry. CriminalJustice and Behavior, 41-57.

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