On March 29th, 2019, the 3rd Annual Gender Impacts Symposium was held in St. Louis. The Gender Impacts series addresses the intersection of race, class and gender in the criminal justice system.
The Prison Education Project joins Let’s Start, the Center for Women in Transition, Connections to Success, the St. Louis Alliance for Reentry, and the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies in co-sponsoring this event.
Special thanks to the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Public Engagement for funding this event, through the Gephardt Institute Civic Engagement Fund: St. Louis Project Grant.
Past symposiums have addressed the overall experiences of women in the criminal justice system, as well as the relationship between incarceration, women and public health. This years symposium focused specifically on mothers, their children and their re-entry process. About 61% of women in prison were caring for children under eighteen at the time of their incarceration. What happens to the children whose mothers go to prison? What kinds of barriers and burdens do mothers face when they are released from prison? The symposium answered these questions and more.
To learn more about the specifics of the symposium, please see the program below.
To read more about the effects of crime and punishment on women, click here.
Program: March 29, 2019
9:30 – 10:15 a.m.
Arrival and Registration
Pillsbury Theater in the 560 Music Building
10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Judge Michael Burton, St. Louis County Circuit Court: A View from the Bench
11:00 – 11:10 a.m.
11:10 – 12:20 p.m.
Panel Discussion: Legal Issues Facing Justice-Involved Mothers
Laura Toledo, Executive Director, Center for Women in Transition (moderator)
Stacey Lannert, Public Defender, City of St. Louis
CarolLyree Price, Parole Officer, Missouri Department of Corrections
Stefanie Moore, Case Manager and Family Support Specialist
Center for Women in Transition
Melissa Douglass, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Goal Driven Counseling
12:20 – 1:30 p.m.
12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Stephanie Regagnon, Founder Ava’s Grace Scholarship
1:30 – 1:45 p.m.
1:45 – 3:00 p.m.
Panel Discussion: Justice-Involved Mothers’ Experiences of Reentry
Patty Berger, Deputy Public Administrator for the City of St. Louis Community and Education Coordinator for Let’s Start
Barbara Baker, Advocate Director, Center for Women in Transition
Annie Laux, Machine operator and packer, North Star Ice Cream
Shawntelle L. Fisher, Founder of SoulFisher Ministries
3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Anne Precythe, Director of the Missouri Department of Corrections: Women We Want to Be
For more information about the speakers from the event, click here.
History of Women’s Incarceration
Between 1980 and 2010, the number of women in prison increased at almost 1.5 times the rate of men. In this thirty year period, numbers of incarcerated women rose by 646%; the rate of men’s incarceration rose 419%. In 2015, Missouri ranked as 5thin the number of incarcerated women, which was up from 10th place in 2013.
Despite the growing numbers of women being sent to prison and being released from prison, the vast majority of services, both for incarcerated individuals and those being released, are designed for men. Few community agencies focus on the needs of women. While men and women coming out of prison share many of the same barriers and problems, research has shown that formerly incarcerated women have not only different needs than men, but they have a greater need for services than men.
One of the biggest challenges that women in prison face are related to their children. When men go to prison, the vast majority of the time, the mothers of their children care for them during their incarceration; when women go to prison, it’s usually grandparents or other relatives who take in the children, but children can also end up in the foster care system, and sometimes mothers lose their parental rights while they are incarcerated.