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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Crime & Law, Inmate Support

Mission: THE BENEDICT CENTER WORKS WITH VICTIMS, OFFENDERS, AND THE COMMUNITY TO ACHIEVE A SYSTEM OF JUSTICE THAT IS FAIR AND TREATS EVERYONE WITH DIGNITY AND RESPECT THE AGENCY'S OVERALL GOALS ARE TO - OFFER REAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHANGE TO WOMEN IN CONFLICT WITH THE LAW THROUGH THE WOMEN'S HARM REDUCTION PROGRAM, A HOLISTIC, GENDER-RESPONSIVE JAIL AND PRISON ALTERNATIVE, GROUNDED IN EDUCATION AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT,-ADVOCATE FOR FUNDAMENTAL SYSTEMIC CHANGE IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

Target demographics: Each year the Benedict Center serves up to 400 involved with the criminal justice system in Milwaukee. Women referred to the Center are in need of basic educational and employment skills, substance-abuse treatment, trauma counseling, anger and stress management and cognitive behavior development. About 72 percent of women served by the program are African American and Latina, with an average age of 34. Nearly 80 percent report a diagnosis of some form of mental illness. Additionally, 78 percent of participants report they have been sexually, physically or emotionally abused. Only 25 percent are employed. Many can’t hold jobs because they lack the skills or experience or because of behavioral problems associated with drug and/or alcohol abuse or mental health issues. Many suffer the consequences of abject poverty, have inadequate, unsafe housing or no housing at all, and most have educational achievement at the 5th or 6th grade level.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 400

Geographic areas served: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Programs: The women's harm reduction program: each year more than 200 women are diverted by the police and district attorney, deferred by the courts, or referred by probation, jail, prison, and child welfare officials. Women participate in education and skills building classes including tutoring, substance abuse treatment services, seeking safety groups to address trauma, anger and stress management classes and parenting classes. Women were also encouraged to create transition plans for building safe and healthy lives.

the sisters diversion project is an innovative community-police partnership to address the issue of street prostitution as a more effective way to reduce crime and disorder and improve economic development in the washington park and walnut hill neighborhoods, while helping women in the sex trade turn their lives around. The project also seeks to achieve policy changes that increase treatment alternatives, diversions and deferred prosecutions for women engaged in prostitution. Rather than incarcerating women, women are required to participate in a 6-month program at the sisters program where they will be provided trauma-informed services that help them prepare for a different way of life. This includes ongoing case management, programming and legal advocacy. This strategy ultimately improves the quality of life in the community while offering a better life for women who have been working on the streets. This model also represents a systemic change in how law enforcement handles prostitution.

other miscellaneous program expenses.

Community Stories

4 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a retired teacher, I came to the Benedict Center to tutor women for their GED's. I went to teach; but I learned. My eyes have been opened to the frustration and needs of the underprivileged and to the unfairness of the criminal justice system. The Benedict Center gets it! The staff provides programs that educate, empower, and direct women to get out of a seemingly impossible hole and get on with their lives. Impressive!

11

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Our society is framed by large margins which are teeming with troubled individuals. Organizations and policies attempt to address the needs of the underprivileged, but rarely does one encounter one as effective and impressive as the Benedict Center. This organization brings women who have had legal and addiction troubles into a vibrant community. It is a place rich with opportunity and support, as well as discipline. Whether taking counseling, anger management classes, or working on their GED, most clients are empowered by their experiences there. Bravo!

11

Volunteer

Rating: 5

At the Benedict Center I have have seen compassion shown for those who most people dismiss-- those who have been arrested for criminal activity. While talking with some of these people, many of whom have probably done things that I would find abhorable and some of whom may be innocent, I am reminded that, despite what they may or may not have done, they are people with special gifts and special needs who should not be locked behind doors only to be forgotten. Through the Jail Book Club I am able to bring in a piece of the outside world and a bit of humanity.

9

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I came to the Benedict Center to volunteer, I found whe staff very friendly and welcoming, and the women participants were extremely grateful for any help I could give them. All of the women at the center have had conflict with the law, and they come to better their lives. They learn to overcome many obstacles, such as poverty, homelessness, abuse, drug addiction, and crime. Yet, they are all treated with respect and dignity in order to build their confidence and self esteem. As a volunteer, I felt that I was making a significant contribution to their progress.