The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Women returning from incarceration should be a priority

Inmates take classes on anger management and coping mechanisms at the Las Colinas correctional facility for women in San Diego. (Brian L. Frank for The Washington Post Magazine)

I was delighted to read Piper Kerman’s July 26 op-ed, “Too many women are still behind bars.” She accurately pointed out that most of these women will return to their communities ill-prepared for life at home. Without a place to live, a job or access to health and mental health care to address any trauma they suffered before and during incarceration, too many women are at risk of returning to jail or prison.

The Convergence Reentry Ready Project recently issued a plan to address this problem. The Reentry Ready plan calls for the development of individualized reentry plans that put supports in place during a person's time in jail or prison and a "warm handoff" from jail or prison to community-based resources.

The corrections system does not have the resources or authority to accomplish this alone. Top state and local leaders across multiple systems must collaborate. It will require new incentives and mandates to break through existing silos and ensure that resources are used effectively.

It is in the public’s interest to help women returning home to lead productive, healthier lifestyles with no subsequent involvement in the criminal-justice system. Our stakeholders believe the time is now to make women returning home from jail or prison a priority.

Stephanie McGencey, Greenbelt

The writer is director of the
Convergence Reentry Ready Project.

Read more letters to the editor.