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New Report: "Women in Prison in Massachusetts: Maintaining Family Connections" by Erika Kates, Paige Ransford with Carol Cardozo

2nd March 2005

New report published by the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, McCormack Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Massachusetts Boston.

NEW RELEASE

Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healy joined State Representative Kay Khan and Department of Correction Commissioner Kathleen Dennehy at the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts Boston on Wednesday March 2, 2005, for the release of the report Women in Prison in Massachusetts: Maintaining Family Connections.

The lieutenant governor and other distinguished guests reviewed the findings of report with policy makers in the departments of criminal justice, correction, social services and mental health. The research was prompted by Representative Khan's Caucus of Women Legislator's Task Force on Criminal Justice and Substance Abuse.

As the nation's population of incarcerated women increased ten-fold since 1978, Massachusetts experienced an equally dramatic growth in prison populations. On January 1, 2003, there were 564 women (6 percent of the total population) in Massachusetts state prisons, with women's commitments increasing 7 percent over 2002.

"Typically, over three-quarters of the women in prison are mothers, the majority of whom had been the primary caregivers of their children prior to their arrests. In this respect their situations differ significantly from their male counterparts and warrant special focus with regard to correctional policies and practices. Yet until recently -- ostensibly because women constitute a small proportion of inmates - such a focus has been largely absent," the researchers found.

The report was prepared by Erika Kates, research director for the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, research assistant Paige Ransford and research associate Carol Cardozo.

Site visits included the state prison for women in Framingham, the houses of correction for Hampden and Suffolk counties and the Essex County Women in Transition (WIT) pre-release program.

The report includes recommendations for public policy changes to improve services to the families of incarcerated women and to inmates themselves.

Published by the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, McCormack Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Massachusetts Boston.