After spending up to nine months in the prison near Windsor for a variety of offences including theft, common assault, shoplifting and aggravated break and enter, the seven, nearly all of whom are mothers aged in their 30s, will return to 24 children between them in the coming months.
One of them has drawn a human body on the jail room wall, and they’ve pinpointed all the places they expect to feel anxiety: sweaty palms in their hands, a racing heart, negative self-talk in their heads. Some of them have homes, some are homeless, some have partners, most have lost parents, but each one of them has a new way of thinking thanks to a self help program, which aims to stop the cycle of crime for some of the 1000 women in custody in NSW.
According to Corrective Services NSW’s most recent statistics, only eight per cent of the prison population are female, but the proportion of women re-offending within 12 months of leaving prison is 42.2 per cent. As a way to reduce recidivism, the NSW government has set up 10 purpose built high intensity program units.
The program is using dialectical behaviour therapy, which has been used in private and prison populations in the US and in NSW jails since 2017. Tools such as mindfulness, meditation and group therapy with facilitators help the inmates’ with anxieties, not just those related with leaving the comforting routine of prison life, where daily decisions like what to wear (prison greens) and what to eat (prison food) have been made for them…
To read more of this article by Helen Pitt for The Age, click here!