Women vs Men: Inequality in Job Training Programs in US Prisons

Reports suggest women are treated differently than men in prisons in terms of the various vocational programs offered to them through the facilities. Men have more programs available that can actually land them jobs after release. Women’s prison vocational services are geared towards their gender and are very limited in terms of making them marketable in the job market.

New Mexico Women's Correctional Facility

Experts Analyze Discrepancy in Women VS Men Prison Vocational Programs

A report published by the advocacy group Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (TCJC) showed a gaping difference in how men and women are treated in prisons. The educational and vocational programs men have access to are different from those for most women inmates.

As a result, several women in prisons have filed lawsuits against the government and a majority have won their cases.

In 1980, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported to Congress that men and women in correctional institutions do not have access to the same prison vocational programs.

The report made it clear that men are offered more educational programs than women. It affirmed that the differential is cruel and unusual punishment and violates women’s rights.

This is a major downfall for women hoping to find reliable income after being released from prisons. Government research has shown the educating inmates has a major impact on whether or not they add to the US recidivism rate:

“And government-funded research has shown that prison education has a significant impact on whether or not someone will return to prison. But there has been little targeted action to fix the problems, and, as the TCJC report shows, that means not much has changed.”

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Prison Vocational Programs Accessible to Women & Men

Nearly 40 years after GAO presented the report to Congress, men and women still do not have access to the same programs while incarcerated. In Texas, TCJC found women have only two job certification programs while men have 21.

Men incarcerated in the Texas prison system have these programs:

  • Construction carpentry
  • Electrical technology
  • Advanced industrial design
  • Collision repair

Women incarcerated in the Texas prison system have these programs:

  • Office administration
  • Culinary arts
  • Upholstery
  • Family dynamics

The programs indicate women have access only to the programs tailored to their gender. Brenda Smith, a law professor at American University, revealed that in the olden days, women prisoners were tasked with:

  • Washing
  • Sewing
  • Cooking
  • Cleaning

Read Top 5 Universities That Offer Correspondence Programs for Prison Inmates

Government Is Aware of Gender Bias in Prisons, Yet Doing Very Little to Address It

Women prisoners were expected to undertake these activities for the male prison employees as well as the inmates. Since men and women are now incarcerated separately, this has changed.

However, the men prison populations are far higher than the women’s. According to Smith, this may be why the authorities design more programs for men than women.

Yet, inmates and their prison loved ones refuse to accept this excuse.

Having more vocational coursework available to men prisoners than women is not unique to Texas. It is mainstream in many American prisons and jails as a whole.

Prison vocational and educational programs reduce incidents of reoffending and help ex-convicts secure jobs after reentry into society.

The US government is aware of the gaping inequality of resources available to the men and women prison facilities, as well as the programs that are open to each gender. But little is being done to address the discrepancies in the opportunities open to men and women in prisons in America.

Charles Omedo
Charles Omedo has a degree in Mass Communication and a PGD in Digital Communication. He worked as a newspaper/magazine reporter and editor for many years. Now, he writes daily news articles for private clients. Charles has written for US/UK/Canadian/Indian clients on various niches. He currently writes prison news for loved ones of inmates on the Prison Rideshare Network.