Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

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Policy Reports and Publications

Alternatives to Incarceration for Women

by Jessica Falk

Jul 6, 2007
Women in Illinois are incarcerated at record rates and at enormous cost to the state. Most are jailed for nonviolent offenses and have experienced trauma, addiction, and economic and social barriers. As a result of women's ncarceration, their children are more likely to have sychological health issues, to be placed in foster care, and to engage in delinquent behavior.

Many of these women do not receive treatment and therefore become repeat offenders or parole violators. This trend is likely to be reversed if women are provided with the services they need instead of incarceration. These services include educational services, drug treatment, family reunification services, and individual and family counseling. Research shows that addressing women's multiple needs through well-designed programs, such as "Families Building Communities" in Chicago and "Positive Options, Referrals and Alternatives" in Springfield, can save the state money and help women recover.