Thursday, April 30, 2009

Program Helps Female Parolees Stay Out of Prison

Female Residential Multi-Service Center in Sacramento Holds First Graduation

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is holding its first graduation for female parolees from the Female Residential Multi-Service Center (FRMSC) in Sacramento. The FRMSC is the first of its kind in California and provides gender specific programs and services for female parolees.

The FRMSC opened its doors on April 28, 2008 in a residential area of Sacramento. Bridges Professional Treatment Services is the contract provider and with the help of CDCR staff has been helping women who suffer from trauma and substance abuse issues.

“This program gets to the heart of why women fail on parole,” said CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate. “This new approach is part of the overall strategy to provide rehabilitative services that address the specific needs of female offenders throughout incarceration and parole.”

Twenty-five women can stay at the center from six months to a year. They are referred to the FRMSC from a parole agent or the Board of Parole Hearings upon release from prison, or in lieu of returning to prison for a violation.

The FRMSC offers a variety of gender responsive services including case management, trauma treatment, substance abuse and domestic violence education, life skills development, family focused services, parenting classes, educational services, GED preparation, vocational training and family reunification services.

“The paths that women follow prior to incarceration are often very different from those of men,” said Debra Herndon, Acting Associate Director of Female Offender Programs and Services. “Most of the women in our prison system have suffered from physical and emotional trauma. Many turn to substance abuse to mask the pain. That can lead to crime to support their habit which in turn can lead to incarceration. This new program aims to get to the root of the trauma and break the cycle.”

When a woman arrives to the FRMSC she is assessed by the treatment team which includes an alcohol and drug counselor, family therapist, program director, vocational developer and parole agent. She is then evaluated in the following areas: substance abuse history, traumatic life events, family history, housing needs, legal issues, medical issues, employment and educational history. Based on these assessments, the team will identify strengths and needs and will try to maximize the potential of each individual woman.

Housing a woman at an FRMSC is cheaper than the average cost of housing her in prison. It costs approximately $109 per day at the FRMSC compared to $126 per day at an institution.

In order to graduate from the FRMSC program, women either must be employed, enrolled in a vocational training program, or taking college courses. Also, graduates must have a stable place to live.

“The FRMSC helps female parolees make a smooth transition into the community. The goal of this program is to help these women become productive citizens and stop them from recycling back into our prisons,” added Secretary Cate. “By reducing recidivism we improve public safety, and save taxpayer dollars.”