Mary Treadwell, who spent 18 months in federal prison and then was hired on a temporary basis by the D.C. Parole Board to study the needs of women offenders, will be staying on with the city government for at least a year to help implement the findings of her report.
Treadwell, who once headed the now-defunct Youth Pride job training program, was convicted in 1983 of conspiring to defraud the federal government and low-income tenants at the Clifton Terrace apartments, 14th and Clifton streets NW.
She was paroled in November from the federal prison in Alderson, W.Va., and given a special 90-day appointment with the Parole Board in March to report on the needs of District women during incarceration and after their release.
"I didn't want to thank the feds for giving me the experience but certainly I can use it to help women in the District," Treadwell, 45, said yesterday during a panel discussion on women prisoners.
She said that her report focused "on what needed to be done" for women prisoners and that her staff position with the board had been extended for one year to help implement her recommendations.
Gladys W. Mack, who heads the Parole Board, said yesterday that it was her decision to hire Treadwell for the 90-day job and her decision to extend the appointment. Treadwell's salary is $27,748 a year.
"She's paid her debt to society, she's served her time," said Mack. "We were interested in her and wanted to take advantage of her firsthand experience to do something about the probems faced by women offenders."
Treadwell's report, which will be presented to the board on Monday, was not available yesterday to reporters. But the former director of Youth Pride, an organization she cofounded with her former husband Mayor Marion Barry in 1967, discussed some of her recommendations during her appearance with the panel.
Among her suggestions: Set up more programs and clubs in federal facilities so that women inmates can learn important organizational, political and job skills; use existing city agencies and services to help female offenders; and form an advisory committee on the problem, something Mack said Treadwell is already helping to establish.
Treadwell's appointment, even on a temporary basis, has been seen as controversial given her former marriage to the mayor and her past criminal conduct. In addition, several well-known corrections experts have questioned the need for Treadwell's study, which they say duplicates earlier ones.
"There is an abundance of material -- congressional, journalistic and scholarly -- about the needs of these women," said Sean McConville, a criminal justice and prison specialist who reviewed the District's correctional policies in a 1986 study. "The policy issues are really quite simple and have been well documented."
The District does not have prison facilities for women. Female inmates serving sentences of less than one year are confined in the D.C. Jail, which now houses 350 to 400 women. Those with longer sentences are sent to federal institutions, primarily Alderson, which is about 300 miles from the District and now has about 300 inmates. Treadwell was sent to Alderson because she was convicted of federal crimes.
Margaret Nolan, former executive director of the Washington Correctional Foundation, said the city's Commission on Women held three days of hearings on the needs of women inmates and parolees -- and came up with findings identical to Treadwell's.
Ed Koren, of the American Civil Liberties Union's Prison Project, said congressional hearings in 1979 had examined the special needs of women at Alderson and heard testimony that the women should be brought back to a D.C. facility.
Mack acknowledged yesterday that other studies have been done, "but nothing's been done about it." She said Treadwell and the Parole Board are going to "pick up whatever advice is out there" and then work "cooperatively" with federal and local authorities to implement necessary programs.
Treadwell's conviction stemmed from her ownership of P.I. Properties, a real estate venture that grew out of the Youth Pride organization. Barry, the second of Treadwell's three husbands, was not implicated in the investigation.