Social Reintegration for Women Released from Prison

Urgent call to strengthen social reintegration for women post-prison, addressing inequalities. The Forum at UNAM stresses academic and policy collaboration for lasting solutions.

Social Reintegration for Women Released from Prison
Advocates emphasize the need for gender-sensitive policies on women's post-prison reintegration.

In a recent forum titled “Derecho al porvenir, mujeres excarceladas del sistema penitenciario” (Right to the Future, Women Released from the Penitentiary System), Mauricio Padrón Innamorato, the Secretary-General of the Institute of Legal Research at UNAM, emphasized the critical need to reinforce academic research and advocate for effective public policies to ensure the social reintegration of women facing inequality and discrimination upon release from prison.

Padrón highlighted that the struggle for the vindication of rights and gender equality demands placing the challenges of women reentering society at the center of public discourse. Women, upon reintegration, often encounter more complex and difficult situations of inequity and poverty, spending three times more time on unpaid care work compared to their male counterparts. Additionally, labor participation rates for women are lower, compounding the hurdles they face.

During their time in prison, women face unique challenges, including difficulties in maintaining family and social support networks. Padrón pointed out a stark gender discrepancy: women lose these connections as there is often no one outside to maintain them, while men, when incarcerated, have someone on the outside maintaining these ties for them.

Nashieli Ramírez Hernández, the President of the Human Rights Commission of Mexico City, stressed that the right to a future must include a thoughtful consideration of the right to reintegration. This process, she argued, should be visualized from the time women enter prison until their release, guided by the principles of fundamental guarantees. Ramírez also highlighted that some women are serving sentences that might not necessitate imprisonment, advocating for alternative sentences like community work that would enable them to continue their roles in family and community life.

The alarming statistics presented at the forum shed light on the urgency of addressing these issues. At the end of 2022, over 226,000 individuals were incarcerated in federal and state penitentiaries, with 5.6 percent being women. Notably, nearly half of these women did not have a sentence, and 30 percent had to wait two years or more to receive one. These figures underscore the gender disparities in the justice system and the pressing need for reform.

Patricia Piñones Vázquez, Secretary of Strategic Projects at the UNAM Center for Research and Gender Studies, emphasized the collective responsibility of academia, civil organizations, and government institutions in identifying and addressing failures, contradictions, and challenges within the criminal justice system.

Efraín Reyes Romero, the General Secretary of the National School of Social Work at UNAM, highlighted the valuable role played by social work professionals within the prison system. He expressed interest in interdisciplinary efforts aimed at undoing the prison system and proposing alternatives, with a specific focus on restorative practices from a gender perspective.

Carla Vázquez, Head of Liaison at the National School of Forensic Sciences of UNAM, and Mayra Nayeli Lazcano, Technical Secretary of the General Directorate of the National Policy for Equality and Women's Rights of the National Women's Institute, also participated. They highlighted the importance of collaborative and multidisciplinary approaches to address the challenges faced by women released from prison.

In conclusion, the forum illuminated the urgent need to prioritize the social reintegration of women released from prison and to address the systemic inequalities that perpetuate their hardships. The collaboration between academia, civil society, and government institutions is crucial in shaping effective policies that ensure a fair and just future for these women.