Wbasny Chapters

2016 – S.3817 / A.7363

Position Statement

S.3817 / A.7363
Parity for Female Inmate Programs

Support

The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY) supports for S.3817 (Hassell-Thompson) / A.7363(O’Donnell), which requires vocational, academic and rehabilitation programs for female inmates in state correctional facilities be equivalent to those provided to male inmates.  Quality rehabilitative programming reduces recidivism, enables women to obtain meaningful employment, and helps them contribute to their families and communities, while reducing costs to taxpayers.

According to the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision’s 2014 report of its prison and supervised population, as of January 1, 2014 there were 2314 women incarcerated in state prisons in New York.[1]  Approximately 4,000 women are in the custody of the Department of Correctional Services during the course of a year[2].  An analysis of New York’s female prison population in 2009 reflected that nearly 54% did not have a high school diploma.[3]  Women in prison tend to be single mothers.[4]

A 2013 report of the Rand Corporation, “prison inmates who receive general education and vocational training are significantly less likely to return to prison after release and are more likely to find employment than peers who do not receive such opportunities.  The findings, derived from an extensive analysis of correctional educational studies, also reflected that prison education programs are cost effective, with a $1 investment in prison education reducing incarceration costs by $4 to $5 during the first three years post-release.  The report concluded that providing inmates education programs and vocational training helps keep them from returning to prison and improves their future job prospects. [5]  A similar conclusion was reached by the National Institute of Corrections, in a report released in 2013. The report noted that that inmates who participated in vocational and educational programs while incarcerated were less likely to recidivate. [6]

The National Institute of Corrections report recognized the disparity in programming for women and men in prisons.  The report, listing differences between men’s and women’s programming, noted that programming for women is not only limited, but inferior for women, and less relevant than men’s programming once women are released.[7]  There is no justification for this disparity between programs.

WBASNY urges passage of these bills, which supports increasing the independence and productivity of incarcerated women once they are released, which will help their children, families, and community, and will save taxpayer money on future costs of incarceration.

[1] “2014 Under Custody Report: Profile of Under Custody Population as of January 1, 2014,” New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
[2]  “”Reproductive Injustice,” Correctional Association of New York, February 2015.
[3] “Women in Prison Fact Sheet”, Correctional Association of New York , April 1, 2009.
[4] “Gender Responsive Strategies for Women Offenders,” 2010 Report of the U.S. DOJ, National Institute of Corrections.
[5] “Education and Vocational Training in Prisons Reduces Recidivism, Improves Job Outlook,” August 2013 report of the Rand Corporation.
[6] “Gender Responsive Strategies for Women Offenders,” 2010 Report of the U.S. DOJ, National Institute of Corrections.
[7]  Id.