Employment

Ailene's Story

When Ailene left Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, she quickly found a job working in fast food and started to volunteer at a detox facility. She soon realized that, with the many barriers she faced as a formerly incarcerated woman, she needed to go back to school because education would be the key to building a new life for herself and her children. She's a passionate advocate for more educational opportunities for currently and formerly incarcerated people.

According to the New York Times:

"That prison education programs are highly cost effective is confirmed by a 2013 RAND Corporation study that covered 30 years of prison education research. Among other things, the study found that every dollar spent on prison education translated into savings of $4 to $5 on imprisonment costs down the line.

Other studies suggest that prisons with education programs have fewer violent incidents, making it easier for officials to keep order, and that the children of people who complete college are more likely to do so themselves, disrupting the typical pattern of poverty and incarceration."

This video was produced and edited by Avalon Edwards, who is a rising junior at Pitzer College in Claremont, California. She chose to intern with the Women’s Justice Project this summer because she wanted to learn more about the unique and often overlooked challenges that incarcerated women face.

Isabel's Story

Isabel describes her experience of incarceration in Oregon and the challenges of accessing programming in prison that can help rehabilitate people or train them for new careers after prison. She believes better access to trade programs in particular would help prepare women for life outside. But even for those who have managed to learn a trade in prison, finding an employer who's willing to take a chance on someone who's been incarcerated is one of the major challenges of life after incarceration.

Isabel experienced houselessness before going into prison. She feels fortunate to have found agencies to help her with money after her release to secure housing. But persuading a landlord to look at a formerly incarcerated person as a tenant can be as difficult as finding work.