Learn about our 2013-14 WPI Criminal Justice Team - Women's Foundation California

Criminal Justice Team 2014

(left to right) Vanessa Perez, Time for Change Foundation; Deborah Small, Break the Chains; Diana Zuniga, Californians United for a Responsible Budget; Tanya Koshy, East Bay Community Law Center; Ana Muniz, Youth Justice Coalition;

Did you know that only 290 of approximately 4,000 eligible mothers have been released to alternative custody?

In 2011 the California Legislature created the Alternative Custody Program (ACP), which allows incarcerated female primary caregivers to serve the remainder of their sentences in a residence or residential facility with their children. One of the challenges addressed—and solved—by ACP is the high financial cost of incarceration.

It costs $50,000 per year to house a woman in prison, but only $11,400 to house her in a program with her child.

However, few people have been able to participate in the ACP due to the lack of clear guidelines. That’s because the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) does not have clear guidelines on how quickly to determinate eligibility for alternative custody or how to ensure health care for people once they are released to their communities.

The Women’s Policy Institute Criminal Justice fellows have proposed several public policy solutions to solve this problem. They include:

  1. Removing unnecessary barriers to eligibility;
  2. Connecting people to health care through the Affordable Care Act; and
  3. Developing a timeline under which CDCR must consider applications from inmates to participate in ACP.

While the Criminal Justice fellows are not working on a specific Assembly or Senate bill this year, they are educating legislators and staffers, conducting legislative visits and advocating for policy change related to alternative custody.

The mentor for this team is Karen Shain, Women’s Foundation of California.

2013-14 Women’s Policy Institute Teams

College and Career Access

Criminal Justice

Domestic Violence

Healthcare Sector Workforce Development

Maximum Family Grant Repeal

Safety Net Policy


Posted in SPI

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