Alumni News

January 27, 2020 at 12:33 pm

Angela Regan Founds Women’s Prison Re-Entry Program

Angela Regan, portrait

Angela Regan

Ohio University alumna Angela Regan’s long time interest in law and how it disproportionately affects certain socioeconomic classes and races drew her to the M.A. in Law, Justice & Culture.

Her interests often take her beyond the classroom, and she recently added creating a prison reentry program for women in Ohio to her extracurricular list of activities.

Regan is a third-year graduate student, pursuing master’s degrees in both Sociology and Law, Justice and Culture at Ohio University. She earned an associate’s degree from University College and a bachelor’s degree with a dual major in Psychology and Sociology-Criminology from the College of Arts & Sciences in 2017.

As an undergraduate, Regan was initially intrigued by the Law, Justice & Culture undergraduate certificate. When the graduate program was announced, she knew she had to apply immediately.  She was accepted into the program and became a member of the first cohort of online students.

Developing an Interest in Inequality and Incarceration

“During my senior year, I conducted an extensive study consisting of interviews and field observation in municipal courts that resulted in my research project entitled Judicial Approaches to Defendants,” she said. Inequality and incarceration, specifically wrongful convictions, have been her areas of interest.

During her first year as a graduate student in Sociology, she gave guest lectures on wrongful convictions to undergraduate students enrolled in Dr. Nicole Kaufman’s Criminal Justice class.

“It is very rewarding when you can inform others on what I feel is an epidemic in our country. There is a misconception that the system rarely fails and only dangerous individuals are locked in cages, but that is simply not the case,” Regan said.

Founding a Nonprofit Reentry Program for Women

Regan says that the program has opened up many opportunities for her, such as being recruited by the organization Common Cause to advocate on Capitol Hill and rally during their Supreme Court case Rucho v. Common Cause. 

This was not the only opportunity that arose for Regan, who was able to conduct research last March in Los Angeles where she came across a prison reentry program for women in LA.

“The founder was cited in an article I was reading. I reached out to her and told her that her work was amazing. Then, out of the blue, she called me like four months later and wanted to fly me out to attend her three-day training in the hopes I could replicate her model here in Ohio.”

“There were approximately 50 others she had recruited, but I was the only one who was not with an already established organization. Her organization—A New Way of Life—was offering a $50,000 grant to four of the attendees to create a reentry program that would become part of a nationwide network of safe houses. We were all invited to submit a letter of interest and then 10 would be invited to submit a full grant proposal.”

“I had never seen a grant proposal, let alone written one. I thought it was a long shot but I met with Dr. Haley Duschinski and Larry Hayman from the M.A. in Law, Justice & Culture program, and they were so encouraging,” she said. “When you are a graduate student who often deals with imposter syndrome, having your professors tell you that they are proud of you and encourage you does wonders for your self confidence.”

Graphic for Welcome Home SIS--a safe space for System Impacted Survivors

After submitting her proposal, Angela was informed in early November 2019 that she was one of four recipients of the grant. She immediately founded Welcome Home SIS—a safe space for System Impacts Survivors, a nonprofit reentry program for women. “In our efforts to end mass incarceration, it is crucial women are not forgotten. In 2014, Ohio saw the rate of male inmates decrease by 1.2 percent; however, they increased by 1.4 percent for women.”

Women take a different path to prison, she noted. Most often this includes self-medicating due to childhood trauma. The average female inmate has experienced six different types of trauma; 60 percent were sexually abused as children, and 25 percent will have it happen again while incarcerated.

With these different routes to prison, women also need a different reentry program to be successful, and programs must gender-specific with a focus on trauma and substance misuse. In addition, family reunification is crucial to becoming a healthy member of society.

“Our program will not only assist with housing, and career development but also family reunification. Getting her children back and becoming a mother again is crucial to regaining her life and becoming whole again,” Regan said.

She noted that Ohio was long overdue for a program that assisted women who were impacted by the system, especially when looked at what resources the state had implemented to prevent re-offending. “We may not be able to solve our country’s crisis of mass incarceration instantaneously, but we can pick up the pieces and deal with the aftermath, one survivor at a time.”

 

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