Women have different treatment needs than men. They respond differently to community supervision, incarceration, and treatment.
Women are strongly influenced by their responsibility for their children and their relationships with staff and peers. Since women frequently bear the burden of caring for dependent children, they face additional barriers and challenges than their male counterparts when planning for reentry.
Specific difficulties for female offenders as they reenter society include finding suitable housing, obtaining medical services, reunifying their families, and developing a better understanding of healthy relationships. These gender-specific challenges create unique reentry struggles for women.
To effectively meet the reentry obstacles women offenders have to confront, CEC developed a gender-specific curriculum. This responsive approach encourages women to take a full inventory of ‘self’, develop coping skills, rebuild a sense of self-efficacy and become empowered as they travel the journey to change their self-image. Women learn how to make good responsible decisions, while also receiving educational and vocational services, which provide the opportunity to enter the workforce. Through family services and alumni services, the women are encouraged to reestablish relationships with their children, spouses, and significant others.
The women's programs provide a comprehensive network of treatment, counseling and alumni services. Women participate in daily Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, individual and group counseling and workshops on relapse prevention. Services at CEC's women's programs are geared towards two goals: helping residents achieve a successful recovery from substance abuse, and facilitating their successful reentry into the community. Individual programming and program development are assessment-driven. Treatment is provided in a treatment culture model, which is group-based, and where residents are held accountable to their in-house community. The core curriculum for psycho-educational classes is derived from the Federal Bureau of Prisons Drug Abuse Treatment Program model for men. Women utilize the Women's Federal Bureau of Prisons Drug Abuse Treatment Program and the work of Dr. Stephanie Covington's journal-based addiction/trauma recovery program for women in the criminal justice system. State-approved therapy groups and an aftercare program are also provided. In addition, CEC uses the Pathways to Change treatment curriculum, at its Colorado and New Jersey facilities.
The Pathways to Change programs provide gender-specific substance abuse treatment programs meeting and exceeding the quality of treatment offered by the best women's programs across the country. Extensive research, collaboration with other treatment providers, and professional experience have been combined to create a curriculum that targets the multiple treatment needs of substance-abusing, criminally involved women. From intake assessment to aftercare, a woman's individual needs are effectively addressed. In order to steer residents towards a successful recovery, all staff must understand the process of addiction and the process of recovery for women. Staff must also understand the ways in which people with substance abuse problems avoid their recovery, and have the tools to help redirect and coach residents towards a successful recovery.
A successful milieu holds residents accountable to their community, which is a recovering community. Pro-treatment behaviors are acknowledged and rewarded, while treatment-defeating behaviors are minimized and eradicated. Staff and residents are given the tools to identify these behaviors and intervene accordingly. Successful community reintegration is the result of the meshing of a successful treatment program with an educated and prepared family and community (e.g. friends, work, church, etc). A resident's family and community must be one that aids in the resident's recovery, and offers few impediments or triggers. The family must also understand the processes of addiction and recovery, and be prepared to deal with problems when they arise. Adequate financial resources and the skills to manage them are also crucial to the resident's successful transition to the community. The milieu works to assist the resident in setting up a successful transition, and confronts the areas of the transition plan that do not support her recovery.