PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to make a case for novel and innovative reentry programs focused on women of color and to describe policy recommendations that are necessary to support the sustainability of these programs and in turn the success of the women who participate in them.Design/methodology/approachA review and analysis of the literature that described job-training opportunities specifically targeted to women exiting jail and the impact on recidivism provided limited information. The authors developed, implemented, and evaluated doula training program for low-income and women of color to determine if birth work could provide stable income and decrease recidivism.FindingsTraining low-income formerly incarcerated women to become birth doulas is an innovative strategy to solve employment barriers faced by women reentering communities from jail. Realigning women within communities via birth support to other women also provides culturally relevant and appropriate members of the healthcare team for traditionally vulnerable populations. Doulas are important members of the healthcare workforce and can improve birth outcomes. The authors’ work testing doula training, as a reentry vocational program has been successful in producing 16 culturally relevant and appropriate doulas of color that experienced no re-arrests and to date no program participant has experienced recidivism.Originality/valueTo be successful, the intersections of race, gender, and poverty, for women of color should be considered in the design of reentry programs for individuals exiting jail. The authors’ work provided formerly incarcerated and low-income women of color with vocational skills that provide consistent income, serve as a gateway to the health professions, and increase the numbers of well-trained people of color who serve as providers of care.
International Journal of Prisoner Health – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 11, 2017