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Identify Local Needs and Barriers

CSSCFI will identify local needs and barriers in order to develop resources for incarcerated and returning citizens, their children, caregivers, families, and professionals working with children, caregivers, and families affected by incarceration.

Approximately 600,000 people are released from prison annually and are expected to return back to their home communities. Many of these individuals require basic services upon their release, which include applying for a driver's license, applying for food stamps, locating housing, applying for employment, and, if remaining under justice supervision, scheduling and attending meetings with their probation or parole officer.

However, many of the communities that these individuals return to lack the essential resources to accommodate reentry, and oftentimes this necessitates the returning citizen to travel a distance to receive these services. Unfortunately, this is problematic as it may contribute to recidivism and decrease community safety and well-being.

To address this issue, communities across the U.S. have developed reentry maps. These reentry maps provide geospatial information on the location of returning citizens and the location of necessary services and are designed to allow organizations providing services to returning citizens to answer such questions as:

  • Where are the incarcerated returning?
  • What basic needs and services are located in these communities?
  • What are the gaps in services based on the returning citizens' needs?
  • What services can be effectively developed/implemented for that particular community?

Educate the Community

CSSCFI will educate the community about the research, stereotypes, and stigma associated with incarceration.

The United States leads the world in incarceration rates with more than 2.1 million citizens which represents 655 incarcerated individuals per 100,000 population. Incarceration has been the chosen response to all levels of criminal activity while other forms of rehabilitation and correction have gone untested. Clearly, the United States falls far behind other countries in the developed world addressing alternatives to incarceration due to cultural beliefs and conditions that exist amongst our society.

It is essential to raise awareness of the social, political and economic factors that perpetuate incarceration and its failure to rehabilitate and lower recidivism. Only through education and awareness can society begin to understand the impact incarceration has on individuals and community as a whole and change the widespread acceptance of incarceration as a solution to crime.

Advocacy and Mentoring

Assist Community Partners

CSSFCI  will assist our community partners in developing and evaluating mentoring and support programs for incarcerated and returning citizens and their children, caregivers, and families.

Using peer mentors to support the reentry of formerly incarcerated individuals is becoming a widespread practice employed by reentry organizations and reentry service providers across the U.S. Initial findings suggest that recidivism is reduced when returning individuals work one-on-one with mentors who assist them in navigating the complexities of the reentry process (i.e. finding housing, securing employment).

Similarly, research suggests that when children of incarcerated parents and their caregivers receive mentoring support, they experience fewer mental health and physical health problems when their loved one returns home.

Advocate for Policy Change

CSSFCI will advocate for policy change to create access to services, remove barriers, and reduce stereotypes and stigma toward incarcerated and returning citizens and their children, caregivers, and families.

There are several barriers affecting the transition of returning citizens into society, thus affecting their children and families. Policies that support the hiring of returning citizens are critical to ensure returning citizens are able to support themselves and their children and families. Barriers to housing affect returning individuals and policy changes that would support housing opportunities are needed given discriminatory housing practices that are in place.

Similarly, barriers to public assistance present another source of strain to the transition of returning individuals and their families. Policy restructuring and formation around employment, housing, and public assistance could encourage a smoother transition for returning individuals and their children and families.

Involuntary Sterilization: The Facts

The History of Involuntary Sterilization

More than 70,000 women were sterilized across 32 states throughout the 20th century

Sterilization was based on the “science” of eugenics (the study of how to arrange reproduction within a human population to increase the occurrence of “desirable &“heritable traits ") a term coined by Francis Galton in 1883.

Those who did not fit the “racial perfection” mold became targets of many eugenics programs (these groups included immigrants, African Americans, indigenous people, those living in poverty, and those with disabilities.)

Of these groups, black women are most likely to be involuntarily sterilized.

Laws Regarding Involuntary Sterilization

Indiana passed the United States’ first sterilization bill in 1907. Thirty-one states followed suit.

In 1907, Governor J. Frank Hanly approved the first state eugenics law making sterilization mandatory for certain individuals in state custody. Indiana authorities believed criminality and a range of mental deficits were hereditary and therefore, grounds for sterilization.

Sterilizations were halted in 1909 by Governor Thomas R. Marshall and later ruled unconstitutional by the Indiana Supreme Court in 1921.

Between 1907 and 1921 over 2,500 people were involuntarily sterilized in Indiana state custody.

In 1927 The United States Supreme Court upheld the state’s rights to sterilization procedures in Buck v. Bell.

In 1942 this decision was overturned in the Supreme Court case Skinner v. Oklahoma. However, this case never directly addressed if forced sterilization was considered punitive in nature, or if it falls under cruel and unusual punishment.

Involuntary Sterilization in Ohio

The state of Ohio was not among one of the 32 states with eugenics laws.

However, there were five attempts to pass sterilization laws in Ohio from 1915 to 1963. All five of these laws failed and eugenics laws were never written into Ohio laws.

Although no involuntary sterilization procedures were recorded in Ohio, there are unofficial reports of involuntary sterilization throughout the state.

Is involuntary sterilization still an issue?

From 2006 to 2010, over 150 women were involuntarily sterilized in California Prisons. Many of these women came forward and began the fight for their rights.

As a result of efforts made by these women, SB 1135, also known as the “Anti-Sterilization Bill” was put into effect. This bill banned unlawful and non-consensual sterilization of California prisoners.

Following this California law, Federal Public Health Law Title 42 was signed. This law regulates the use of sterilization procedures on institutionalized individuals and bans the use of federal funds for inmate sterilization.

Center for the Study and Support of Children and Families of the Incarcerated

Yvette R. Harris, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology
Room 334 Psychology Building
Oxford, OH 45056