Founded in 1845, Women's Prison Association (WPA) was the nation's first organization that was solely dedicated to working with criminal justice-involved women and their families. Aiming to create opportunities for change in the lives of its clients, as well as in communities impacted by incarceration, WPA serves more than 1,500 women and 500 children each year. With approximately 70 employees and 50 volunteers, WPA operates from three community sites in New York City, and from jail-based offices on Rikers Island and in the Taconic and Bedford Hills State Correctional Facilities.
WPA's partnership with DHS spans more than two decades, starting with the founding of the organization's Sarah Powell Huntington House (SPHH) in 1993. Currently serving up to 28 families who have been affected by maternal incarceration, the East Village-shelter aims to help women reunify with their children and work toward stabilization goals. Because each unit in SPHH contains its own kitchen, bathroom, two bedrooms and a living room? WPA creates rich learning opportunities to build confidence and prepare clients for apartment-living. According to WPA's 10-year outcomes report, 80 percent of SPHH clients who were living with one or more of their children transitioned to permanent housing, with only 4 percent experiencing a subsequent shelter stay.
With the opening of the Isaac T. Hopper Home in 2013, WPA is expanding its partnership with DHS, so that even more New Yorkers may benefit from its comprehensive social services programs.
Throughout all of its work, WPA grounds its services in gender-responsive principles and seeks to address factors that have been shown to influence women's risk for criminal justice system involvement, including trauma, mental illness, substance abuse, strained or unhealthy relationships, and parental stress. WPA's comprehensive portfolio of services meets clients' needs across several interdependent life areas: (1) subsistence-including transportation, food and clothing; (2) stable, safe housing; (3) family support; (4) physical and mental health and sobriety; (5) criminal justice compliance; and (6) social/civic connections.
WPA's services are designed to provide women at any point along the criminal justice continuum with coordinated support as they progress from basic survival to stabilization and, finally, to self-sufficiency.