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INTRODUCTION I was dealin’ with facin’ time, a life sentence, but the judge gave me a chance . . . The van pulled up, I was handcuffed, and they walked me up the path. It was a beautiful day outside. Even though it was cold, the sun was shinin’ ’n it was just like, “I’m out!” The first thing I did was look up ’n just seen the cross on top and I said, “Oh wow,” ’n I looked back down ’n just seen the handcuffs on my hands. It was just a real, kind of a religious or spiritual . . . it was a personal feeling I can’t really put it into words. It is hard to explain. It was more of a feeling, comin’ into what was a convent, comin’ in with handcuffs. It was kind of embarrassing, but really powerful. Then when I walked in, for them to take the handcuffs off it was just like, I’m finally free. I felt like I came to the right place. It started the next chapter.—Adeline The number of women incarcerated in prisons and jails has grown dramatically in the last several decades.1 Most women are incarcerated for drug-­ related crimes, and limited correctional resources for treatment mean that many women return as they were to their communities and the troubles that contributed to their involvement with the criminal justice system. When incarceration is complete , some women return to communities under community supervision, others are released without surveillance, and a growing number are transferred to residential reentry centers before their final release from custody. Reentry centers (traditionally known as halfway houses) were devised to meet the increasing demand for transitional housing and services for offenders returning to communities after incarceration. As is historically the case for correctional programming, reentry centers were developed with the needs of male offenders in mind, and most still focus heavily on the treatment needs of men. Some programs, however, are geared to women’s needs, and a developing body of scholarship on gender-­ responsive strategies for female offenders makes the case that women benefit from such services and programming. This approach is 2 a halfway house for women not without criticism, however. Related literature explores the irony that gender-­ responsive correctional practices, such as reentry and community supervision, can function counter to the goals of rehabilitation, reproducing the various forms of oppression and domination that women have experienced throughout their lives. While the goal of reentry programs, which are designed to be reintegrative rather than punitive, is to provide a transitional setting with services to assist women as they move from prison to productive, free lives, the structure, supervision protocols, and programming may be so restrictive and punitive that they render the reentry programs counterproductive. Scholarship on gender-­ responsive services as well as contributions on the effects of correctional interventions have brought necessary attention to these issues and to the women they affect. What is missing from this scholarship is an exploration of how women experience and manage gender-­ responsive reentry in the residential setting of a halfway house. This book aims to fill that gap. The argument I make is that, counter to what is promised by a reentry center called Alpha Omega House, women receive few services and little support for their transition to civic life, and they are damaged by experiences they have at the center. Rather than helping the women, the center reproduces in extreme form the patriarchal domination and oppression its residents have faced throughout their lives. Nonetheless, women at the house exert agency through resistance to manage and mitigate conditions they experience as harmful, though their efforts may also be destructive and subject them to further harm and penal control. Incarceration and Reentry More than 2.2 million offenders were incarcerated in state or federal prisons or local jails at the end of 2011 (Glaze and Parks, 2012). Although women represent a small proportion of the total jail and prison population (about 7 percent of prison inmates and 12 percent of jailed inmates), women’s incarceration rates have far outpaced those of men over the last few decades (Guerino, Harrison, and Sabol, 2011; Minton, 2011). In prisons alone, the incarceration rate for women increased 740 percent between 1981 and 2011 compared to 371 percent for men (Carson and Sabol, 2012; Kalish, 1981). More recently, the rate of both jail and prison incarceration for women jumped from 110 for every 100,000 female residents to 131. This represents a 19...


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