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In recent years, a significant increase in female members of ethnic minority groups in the Australian and American custodial population has been observed. This observed growth subsequently results in an increase in those returning to the community, as well as those accessing available post-release services upon their return. While existing literature on prisoner re-entry readily highlights the unique needs of these women, it largely does not delve into their detailed experiences, and how their interactions with post-release services influence these experiences.
Drawing on narrative interviews conducted with formerly-incarcerated women and post-release support staff in Melbourne and New York City, the paper outlines two distinct models of post-release service delivery: a Re-entry Community Model (RCM) and a Client Service Model (CSM). In the paper, key elements of the RCM and the CSM are discussed – including, funding resources, service delivery priorities, model culture, and responsibilities and expectations. Moreover, the experiences of formerly-incarcerated women accessing each of these models will also be presented. It is argued that the model of post-release service delivery can act to either alleviate or compound on the already-complex and unique challenges these women face when returning home from prison.
Sitthana Theerathitiwong is a final-year PhD candidate in criminology at the University of Melbourne. Her research interests are in the incarceration and post-release experiences of women and other minority groups. For her PhD research, she has conducted a cross-jurisdictional study comparing the reentry experiences of ethnic minority women in Melbourne and New York City. She is currently employed as a forensic research officer and data management lead in Melbourne.