Opinions in this article are those of the author.
By Kelly M. Shaw, Marion County Public Defender Agency
Work release is not the first option attorneys and judges think about when considering sentencing, but it should be for women with the chance to go to Craine House.
Craine House is not only vastly different than Duvall (the work release center for men in Indianapolis), it is different than most women’s work release centers in the country. In fact, there are only five other work release programs in the country that allow women to have their children stay in the facility with them. Allowing the children to live in the facility with the mothers on work release not only allows for a more home-like setting but also provides motivation and something to focus on for the mothers serving their sentence.
Here are three facts about Craine House to consider when thinking about it as part of a sentence:
- Women no longer have to have children to come to Craine House.
- Craine House is different from most work release programs because women are allowed to have their children who are infants to five years old reside with them, but having young children is not a requirement. Women who have older children and women who do not have custody of their children are welcome at the Craine House as well. This allows women who have DCS cases to work towards regaining custody. Additionally, those women who have older children can become role models for those who have younger children in the facility.
- There are certain women who are more likely to succeed at Craine House.
- When considering a sentence at Craine House, attorneys and judges must take into account the eligibility requirements as well as the people who will be the best fit at Craine House. The first requirement is that they have been charged with a non-violent offense.
- Additionally, “Craine House is about teaching women to be self-sufficient and employable,” Executive Director Suzy Pierce says. This means that women referred to Craine House must be healthy enough to gain full-time employment.
- Lastly, the sentence should not be too long or too short because that could also affect the woman’s chances of succeeding. Pierce recommends a sentence over 90 days, but not much longer than one-and-a-half years.
- “If the women are doing well, they will have gone through all of the programs and have been discharged from treatment [after 1.5 years],” Pierce says. “Doing well should mean they get to move on to a less restrictive component or on to home. Many times if they stay longer than 1.5 years they go backward.”
- There is on-site, evidence-based programming.
- Another way Craine House is different than most work-release facilities is that they have on-site programming. Programs include IOP, anger management, individual and group treatment, culinary vocational programs, financial literacy, parenting and job readiness. Those programs are also evidence-based, meaning they constantly adapt to what actually works for the residents.
- “Our program is tailored to meet the needs of this ever-changing population and the barriers they face, substance use, mental health issues, trauma, etc.,” Pierce Says.
- In addition to programming, the women are kept busy in other ways throughout the day, such as going to work or looking for employment, taking care of their children, cleaning, helping in the kitchen or throughout the facility, meeting with their case manager or therapist and planning for the next day and week.
- Some of the women may even be starting their own business in the near future. Pierce has applied for a grant to fund The Coffee House Project, which will be a resident-run business that roasts and sells coffee beans to be sold to the public.
- It works.
- Craine House has an outstanding 20 percent recidivism rate. According to the National Institute of Justice, which is the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice, the national recidivism rate for incarcerated persons is 67.8 percent after three years, and 76.6 percent after five years. Those statistics speak for themselves.
Overall, Craine House is a great example of what attorneys and judges hope for in a sentence—a balance between punishment and rehabilitation that allows women who complete their sentence to become better members of our community.
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