Female Offender Programs and Services
By OPEC Staff
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is a national leader in gender-responsive strategies for its female inmate population. The department developed its distinct rehabilitative strategies by collaborating with inmate advocates, community members, as well as female inmates and their loved ones.
The female inmate population has been dramatically affected by Realignment as many female inmates are non-serious, non-violent, as defined by the Penal Code, and non sex-offenders. Prior to realignment, the female population totaled 9,458. The department managed these females in three state prisons, three fire camps, and seven community-based facilities for lower-level inmates. As of Aug. 8, there were 6,169 female inmates housed in the state’s three female institutions. This population is projected to further decline to 5,200 inmates by June 30, 2014.
As a result of the reduced female population, the department needed to find a cost-efficient way of housing its remaining female inmates as well as balancing the housing needs of its male inmate population. To meet these goals, the decision was made to convert Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW) in Chowchilla to a Level II Sensitive Needs Yard male facility by June 27, 2013. The conversion is currently under litigation.
Converting VSPW allows CDCR to avoid spending millions of dollars to build a prison to comply with the Three-Judge Court order to reduce inmate overcrowding, keep the jobs of approximately 1,000 staff members at the institution, and provide rehabilitative programming space for male inmates.
The department expects to consolidate the remaining female population into two female prisons – California Institution for Women in Corona and Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla.
To provide additional housing for the female population in a smaller, more cost-efficient prison setting the department will also reactivate and repurpose the unused Folsom Transitional Treatment Facility into a newly designated 403-bed Folsom Women’s Facility.
CDCR’s plan for female inmates allows for housing female offenders in southern, central, and northern California, keeping female offenders who are ineligible for community-based programs closer to their families and children.
Community Prisoner Mother Program
The purpose of the Community Prisoner Mother Program (CPMP) is to break the inter-generational cycle of criminality by providing an opportunity for pregnant women, or women with young children, to develop life skills, remain free from alcohol and drugs, and become better parents while serving their sentence.
The CPMP allows females to participate without having been ordered to do so by the court.
To qualify for this program, the female inmate must be a low-level, non-serious, non-violent, non sex-offender. As the female inmate population continues to decline, there are fewer eligible inmates for these programs. The Legislature has recognized this and in 2012 passed Senate Bill 1021 to expand the eligibility criteria for the CPMP and to allow the department the ability to review certain cases on a case-by-case basis. The new CPMP eligibility criteria is very similar to the camp criteria.
Based on this, the department anticipates that there will continue to be a viable population to keep one CPMP open.
Female Rehabilitative Community Correctional Center
The Female Rehabilitative Community Correctional Center (FRCCC) places low-level female offenders into a secure facilities located in the community. The administrative, educational, vocational, and therapeutic programming for inmates is provided by qualified contract staff at the facility. A key component of this program is coordinated case management from the time a woman is sentenced through the date of her discharge from prison.
Based on the positive outcomes from this program, the department intends to continue the operation of the 75-bed program located in Bakersfield. In fact, in order to increase participation levels, the department has expanded the eligibility criteria for the program to align it with similar community-based programs. This will help fill existing beds to their maximum capacity, and provide programs and transitional services to reduce recidivism and reduce crowding.