Where Are All the Young Men and Women of Color?: Capacity Enhancement Practice in the Criminal Justice System

By Melvin Delgado | Go to book overview

17
Program for Female
Offenders, Inc.,
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Program for Female Offenders was established in 1971 through the vision of Charlotte Arnold, who worked in the Pittsburgh office of the Pennsylvania Program for Women and Girl Offenders. Arnold was visiting female prisoners in state custody to talk with them individually about their needs. As women prisoners have specific needs that often go unmet in a male-run prison system, the prisoners often asked Arnold to help them meet immediate instrumental needs such as obtaining clothes for court appearances, tracking children who had been taken away from them by the state, and getting information to family members: “I smoked in those days … as they told me what they needed. I would write it on the cover of my matchbook” (Harris, 1997, p. 54). The women's greatest need was getting help finding employment upon release from prison. In 1974, Arnold opened a storefront office to place newly released women in paying jobs either directly or through job training programs. The original goal of the Program for Female Offenders, as a result, focused on employment. According to the organization's newsletter, The Program News, its mission “is to provide programs for the reintegration of female offenders into society with the goal of reducing the number of offenders returning to criminal behavior, and to promote criminal justice programs which will increase community awareness and improve the criminal justice system” (Program for Female Offenders, n.d.-b, p. 1).

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