The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to develop a proposal for a comprehensive, trauma-informed and gender-responsive job training program at Century Regional Detention Facility that prepares female inmates before their release to succeed in the workforce and connects them to career pathway employment after release.
A study published by the U.S. Department of Justice found women often face unique and challenging barriers to employment after serving their sentence, particularly if they are a custodial parent for children.
Women are often under- or unemployed, work fewer hours and make less per hour than their male counterparts, and often in temporary, low-level, or entry-level jobs with little chance for advancement. Not surprisingly, women who are not financially independent are more likely to recidivate.
Nationwide, unemployment among formerly incarcerated people is exponentially higher than for the general population and it is highest within the first two years of release, according to research conducted by the Prison Policy Institute. Pre- and post-release employment services are therefore critical to reduce recidivism and help incarcerated people quickly integrate back into society.
Los Angeles County recently opened a similar Job Center for men at Pitchess Detention Center. The proposed Job Center at Century Regional Detention Facility is intended to address the unique barriers to employment faced by women.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, author of the motion said, “Women often need to overcome an extra set of barriers because they may lack employable skills and may also be the primary caretakers of their children. We can’t expect people to rebuild their lives if they’re not given a fair shot at a steady good-paying job. This Center takes the first step in helping incarcerated women overcome the many barriers that prevent them from building stable, productive lives after they are released.”
“Having a job center within a jail would exponentially increase the second chance opportunities for women in our criminal justice system,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who co-authored the motion. “In partnership with the Sheriff’s Department and WDACS, we are exploring ways to provide these women with the job skills, training, and trauma-informed support they need to successfully reenter society and rebuild their lives.”
Abbe Land, director of the County Women & Girls Initiative, said: “Despite the fact that there’s been a dramatic rise in incarcerated women around the country, prison and jail programs often overlook women’s unique needs. I’m very happy to see the County address this critical factor in reducing the number of women who cycle in and out of jail because they have not been able to secure steady employment after they’ve been released.”