The Incarcerated Women’s Initiative, Then and Now: Vermont Summit on Women in Corrections

Issued: September 18, 2014                     

(Montpelier) - In 2005, the Vermont Agency of Human Services (AHS) developed the Incarcerated Women’s Initiative (IWI) to address the growing number of women in prison and minimize the impact on the inmates’ children, families and communities.

The goal of IWI was to reduce the number of women in prison in Vermont.  Specific objectives included reducing the number of women flowing into the broader Corrections system, being sentenced and detained by the courts, and being incarcerated due to violations of probation.  IWI objectives also included decreasing the length of stay in incarceration and increasing the rate of successful re-entry for women offenders.  These improvements were to be accomplished through partnerships with community organizations, stakeholders and the resources of AHS.

As the IWI’s tenth anniversary approaches, this summit will re-examine the history of incarcerated women in Vermont, discuss issues still facing women in corrections today, and propose new policy recommendations.  Experts in this field in Vermont will provide background and context for this discussion.  Formerly incarcerated women will share their experience.  Nationally known keynote speaker, American University’s Brenda Smith, will share her knowledge of successful initiatives from other states and countries, to broaden and enrich this discussion.   The Summit agenda and poster available here.

The IWI summit is co-sponsored by Vermont Commission on Women, Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform, Vermont Bar Association, Vermont Women’s Legislative Caucus, Vermont Law School (VLS) and VLS’s Black Law Students’ Association, Women’s Law Group, and National Lawyers’ Guild.  Registration deadline is Monday, September 22nd. Registration fee  is $20 and includes lunch. Continuing legal education (CLE) credits are available. To register, or for more information, please contact Claire Greene / 802-828-2852.
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The Vermont Commission on Women (VCW) is a non-partisan state agency working to advance rights and opportunities for women and girls. Sixteen volunteer commissioners and representatives from organizations concerned with women’s issues guide the VCWs public education, coalition building, and advocacy efforts. VCW offers many services to the public, including a toll-free information and referral service at 800-881-1561 and many publications, including the handbook The Legal Rights of Women in Vermont.   For more information, please visit women.vermont.gov.