Women and Special Populations

Final video in the four-part series

(BOP) - The Bureau of Prisons (Bureau) has offered specific oversight of female offenders at the national level for more than 20 years. Of the nearly 160,000 federal offenders, women consistently account for approximately 7 percent of the federal inmate population. The Women and Special Populations Branch ensures the provision of evidence-based services to meet the needs of federally incarcerated women, and other vulnerable populations, by providing national guidance on classification, management, and intervention programs and practices. The branch also provides guidance on special populations, including transgender persons, individuals who are veterans, and individuals with disabilities incarcerated across the Bureau. Additionally, the Women and Special Populations Branch is involved in national policy development, ensuring new initiatives are gender-responsive and trauma-informed. Stakeholder engagement, including incarcerated persons feedback, is a priority and is utilized to identify and implement new program and training needs.

Women's pathways to incarceration often differ from those of men. Women are more likely than men to have been the primary caregivers of their children prior to incarceration. Frequently, incarcerated women have a history of dysfunctional relationships which pose additional challenges to the reintegration process. When compared to men, the risk of violence or serious misconduct in prison for women is significantly lower. The trauma-informed and gender-responsive approach in providing treatment and services for women includes programming targeting deficits related to building healthy relationships: their role as primary caregivers; parenting and mothering; surviving physical, sexual and emotional trauma; vocational needs and under employment; wellness; and health care.

In meeting the gender specific needs of women, the Bureau has greatly increased the programming and services which are available to women. These initiatives include additions to the First Step Act (FSA) required Evidence Based Recidivism Reduction (EBRR) Programs and Productive Activities (PAs) available for women. These structured, curriculum-based programs are led by staff, contractors, or volunteers and may result in the award of FSA time credits. The Bureau's robust reentry programs are designed to ensure all sentenced persons have the skills necessary to succeed upon release.

Last fall, Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Greenville and FCI Pekin, along with the United States Probation Office, Eastern District of Missouri, collaborated to provide 14 females in federal custody the ability to participate in a community job fair in St. Louis, Missouri. Recognizing the unique needs and challenges faced by the female population, the community job fair was also an opportunity for these women to highlight the training and skills they acquired in prison to put them on the right path to a successful reentry to the community, including post-incarceration employment.

A four-part video series titled, "First Step Act: Pathway to Success," specifically timed to be released during Women's History Month, features the journeys of these 14 women from "What Now?" as they found themselves behind bars to "What's Next?" as they prepared to return to the community as better citizens and neighbors. Each Monday in March, a video in recognition of the countless women who have fought tirelessly for equal opportunity in our Nation and the Bureau's own efforts to increase opportunities for formerly incarcerated women, will be released.