Health Issues among Incarcerated Women

By Ronald L. Braithwaite; Kimberly Jacob Arriola et al. | Go to book overview

19
Discharge Planning
for Incarcerated Women
Linking Identified Needs with Community Support

AMY E. BOUTWELL
ALLISON KENDRICK
JOSIAH D. RICH

Incarceration offers a unique opportunity to identify and address the destabilizing stresses in an inmate's environment that led to her entry into the correctional system, and many women express interest in seizing this opportunity to make life changes. Structured support is critical in preventing released inmates from returning to poor health, unsafe living situations, and ongoing drug use that results in high rates of recidivism and a disproportionately high prevalence of HIV (Crosland, Poshkus, and Rich 2002; De Groot 2000). Integral to the lasting success of any progress made during the term of incarceration is the development and institution of a discharge plan to link the released inmate with needed community services in order to facilitate her stable and long-term transition into society. This chapter will review the physical, emotional, and social stressors faced by incarcerated women; discuss the role of screening for these problems during incarceration; describe four model discharge planning programs and highlight key elements of these programs; and conclude with recommendations for providing discharge planning to incarcerated women.


Identifying Needs

Incarcerated women are high-risk individuals who are traditionally underserved in their medical and social needs. They have higher rates of substance abuse, mental illness, and infection with HIV and other STDs than their nonincarcerated peers (Freudenberg 2001; Richie, Freudenberg, and Page 2001). A large proportion have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse (Conldin, Lincoln, and Flanigan 1998), and many report having sold or traded sex for drugs, money, housing, or security (De Groot 2000). During the first hours and days following release, women are highly vulnerable to relapse to drug use and/or criminal activity (Freudenberg 2001; Richie, Freudenberg, and Page 2001), reentering abusive rela-

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