IN-CJ Newsdesk 2024: Women and Criminal Justice – Georgia’s Collaborative Approach

IN-CJ Newsdesk 2024: Women and Criminal Justice – Georgia’s Collaborative Approach

This discussion addresses the unique challenges faced by women in the criminal justice system. Moderated by Sherri Bloodworth the Operations Support Director with the Department of Community Supervision in Georgia. She was joined by Melanie Scarborough, Pamela Wiggins, Renace Nead, and April Ross, representing various Georgia state agencies, including the Georgia Department of Community Supervision, the Georgia Department of Corrections, and the Georgia Commission on Family Violence.

The panellists discussed the distinct challenges women face within the criminal justice system, highlighting the need for gender-responsive approaches. Many facilities, originally designed for men, fail to meet the specific needs of women, emphasizing the need for dedicated spaces that ensure privacy and proper hygiene. Effective re-entry programs were identified as crucial, focusing on family reunification, mental health, substance abuse treatment, and educational opportunities to help women transition back into society.

The discussion underscored the high rates of trauma, domestic violence, and substance abuse among incarcerated women, calling for trauma-informed care and education on healthy relationships to break cycles of violence. Various supportive initiatives were highlighted, such as hygiene cabinets and post-partum units, which provide essential support and maintain dignity for women in custody. Educational and vocational training, like welding certifications, were also discussed as important for improving employment prospects and self-sufficiency for women upon release.

Systemic changes were deemed necessary, including legislative support, adequate funding for gender-specific programs, and enhanced community partnerships to create a more effective support system. Looking to the future, the panellists discussed plans to expand programs, including introducing doula services for pregnant offenders and continuing to focus on trauma-informed care and peer support.

Rob Watson

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