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.