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Women in Recovery Program Earns National Award
Date: December 13, 2016 09:38AM

Women in Recovery Program Earns National Award

Early this year, Family & Children’s Services Women in Recovery (WIR), an alternative-to-incarceration program for drug-addicted women, won the Excellence in Addictions Treatment Innovation award from the National Council for Behavioral Health

Founded in 2009 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the program works with women facing lengthy prison terms due to addiction and trauma-related crimes which make them ineligible for other prison diversion programs such as Drug Court.

Although, the US has recently begun dialing back on the number of male prisoners, we have continued to increase the number of women behind bars. The imprisonment of women has heartbreaking collateral damage because women are disproportionately likely to be primary caregivers and 60% of women in state prisons have children under 18. Studies have found that 43% of women in jails have serious mental health problems, and 82% have drug or alcohol problems.

The continued mass incarceration of women has collateral effects. Recidivism is high, and imprisonment breaks up and impoverishes families. A newly published study from the Russell Sage Foundation shows that 2.6 million American children who have a parent in prison or jail pay an enormous price. Incarceration of a family member is associated with a 64% decline in household assets, magnifying the effects of poverty.

Research has shown that once their mothers are imprisoned, research has shown that children become more likely to be abused, engage in criminal behavior, experiment with drugs and end up in prison themselves.

Women in Recovery’s goal is to reduce the number of women with drug-related offenses sent to prison. WIR works closely with the criminal justice system and other community partners to give its women the supervision they need, along with substance abuse counseling, mental health treatment and trauma treatment education, workforce training and family reunification to ensure they break the cycle of re-offending.

Through a 14-18 month program, WIR provides its participants with services including substance abuse, mental health and trauma treatment; court-related supervision and drug-testing; culinary training; case management; wellness programs; housing; and family therapy. The family reunification component, delivered through an after-graduation program for grads, helps to break the cycle of incarceration.

Women in Recovery’s two-generation approach works with both the women and their children. It reduces the numbers of women in prison, saves money and has had remarkable success helping troubled women shake drugs and restart their lives. The Women in Recovery program costs $19,700 on average; after that, the woman is in a job, and recidivism over the next three years is just 4.9 percent. Since its inception, WIR has prevented more than 156,000 days in prison and impacted the lives of more than 900 children, in addition to its graduates.

For more information about the Family & Children’s Services Women in Recovery program, go to: www.fcsol.org/services/wir/.

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