Pam- Mayor’s Office of Reintegraton Services

“When I worked at the prison society, the prison society had this bus service. Busses go to every prison, Muncie, Cambridge Springs, all the prisons, Greene, whatever. And one of the things that I started noticing and then we would discuss it when we had staff meetings is that, the busses to every one of the male prisons would be sold out. Sometimes we would have backlogs of people waiting, however, the busses to Muncie and Cambridge Springs we were rarely ever able to fill those busses. There were supposed to be two separate busses, we’d have to sometimes combine the two visits together and still we could not get that bus filled. Women suffer so much during their incarceration because lots of times, A it’s either their kids are left with caregivers who are sometimes too old to make the trip or sometimes it’s too burdensome to take 4 and 5 kids up to the prisons. Sometimes their kids end up being in DHS and research has shown that 90% of the time, women who are incarcerated, a combination of drug abuse, mental health issues, prostitution, a combination of all, so a lot of times, when a woman gets incarcerated, all family ties are severed for one reason or another. Hence, it was difficult, if possibly at all, to get a visit. Unlike the men, who had mothers, aunts, grandmothers, 4 or 5 different girlfriends. Men get visits. Women don’t get visits. For all of these varying reasons. Even when women come home and you ask them, “What are your priorities?” 90% of the time they say, “Trying to make myself whole and reuniting with my family.” Ask a man what he wants? Give me a job, and give me a place to live. And when you do the question of, “How many kids do you have?”, sometimes these men have 6, 8, 9, kids. You rarely hear a man saying, my first priority is reuniting with me children and we see it all the time when we do ISPs. Sometimes you get guys saying, “I’ll come home and it’s so difficult” and you’ll hear case managers talk about how he’s really bothered about his kids not wanting to be there for whatever. But 99% of the women, “I want to make myself whole. I want to get over this drug addiction or whatever it is I’m dealing with, and reunite with my children.”

In a women’s prison, you could count the number of female guards versus the number of male guards. It’s always more. So even to the point when a woman is having her period, and you need extra pads, this male is on duty. That kind of thing, now you have to go explain yourself to a man who really does not even care. A lot of the times, the bathrooms in a lot of these prisons were made… because the whole incarceration peak started with more men being incarcerated… so you have cases where the bathrooms are not really even built with women in mind. They’re built with men, so it becomes an inconvenience when you go take a shower or whatever. I mean health issues, female based health issues come up and 90% of the time you have a male doctor, you may have a female nurse, but 90% of the time even for most health issues, if you’re a female person that is incarcerated, your first point of contact is a man. I used to see that a lot. You have to go in the middle of the night or whatever, something happens, and you know, your whole bed needs to be changed because you had a heavy period or whatever, you have to go call Mr. Brown to tell him I need to get… and then he’s not going to believe, so then you have to go through this. That’s humiliating. So you lay there because you don’t want to go tell this man and you’re hoping tomorrow that when the shift changes a female comes. And this is not unusual. This is what happens across the board, because like I said, you look around, and most of the prisons you still have a lot of men. More men. Overall, if you look at the census, you have more male COs than female COs. Just because it’s a women’s facility we’re going to get women to work here. No, it doesn’t work like that.

From a female perspective, nobody actually sits and says, O.K. what is really going on with you women? Why are you coming back? Why are you breaking the law? Sit down. Tell me about yourself. Who hurt you? Where did this start? Let me get you the help that you need one on one. And when you get out here there is an organization that we will direct you to that will continue these services. If that was there I’m certain the numbers would not be what they are. Only because it’s drugs, mental health, prostitution, abuse, drugs, mental health, prostitution, abuse, drugs, mental health…. combination of one or two or all of those, but that’s basically what it is. And that’s trauma from childhood. And you talk to them and you do all of the research because most of the time now the presentation I do is talking about the needs of women, or women in reentry, all that type of stuff. But there is so much research out there. That’s basically what it is. And then the shame that they carry when they come home that sometimes draws them right back into that place because they don’t even have the self esteem to say, “O.K. I’m going to hold my head up and I’m going to try and…” some people do it, but a lot of them don’t because again they have more issues. Drug induced things so it’s easier to just go back to the same old same old and that’s why the numbers are increasing.”

Pamela Superville- RISE

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