The Womens Village: A Source of Change for Incarcerated Women

Women incarcerated at the Washington Corrections Center for Women have united together to create a community with the prison called-The Womens Village.

The idea for The Womens Village came about as both women inmates and staff wanted to create a more positive community environment and to help incarcerated women change their thinking and help to culture a more positive prison environment, especially for long-term prisoners.

The women involved with The Womens Village realized that they could utilize each and everyone of their unique strengths to create a prison culture based on the pursuit of personal excellence.

The project offers the women a unique opportunity to share their personal experiences and knowledge to inspire each other to change and make positive contributions to the community in which they all live — the prison.

 

The Womens Village has an advisory council and governing capacity that helps to provide leadership and direction. Ten women serve on the council and they are work diligently to create a healthier prison atmosphere.

One of the goals of The Womens Village is to  help reduce violence in the correctional facility. One way is to keep the women busy. If the women are kept busy and can find a passion, problems can be addressed before they escalate into full-blown violence. Keeping busy can be a great stress reducer and finding something to be focused on can build self-esteem and confidence.

From this think tank of the advisory council comes nine sub-councils that can help the women inmates stay engaged.

Violence Reduction Team-responsible for monitoring the prison environment and finding ways to reduce violence.

Heath & Wellness Team-facilitates wellness classes such as women's health, nutrition and fitness programs.

Environmental Team-helps women in creating a sustainable environment.

Peer Support Team-help women prisoners deal with the realities of day-to-day life in prison. They work directly with the mental health staff.

Morale Building Team-helps women deal with their feeling by encouraging a positive atmosphere.

Reentry Team-helps with programs to help with the reentry process; job readiness classes, resume writing, proper work attire.

Spirituality Team-gives women a chance to explore their spiritual beliefs.

Family Support-parenting groups, building positive family relationships and workshops on family dynamics.

Women prisoners who are interested in The Womens Village must become a member and participate in a series of orientations, and commit to two self-help groups. During orientation, the women have a chance to develop personal goals that they would like to address and reach as part of The Womens Village.

What struck me as so sincere about this program are the values. Honesty, Compassion, Diversity, Self-Empowerment, Education and Usefulness. These deep core values have had a profound effect on helping women prisoners to be a source of change for each other within prison walls. The Womens Village program is a unique and supportive community while under very difficult circumstances.