April 19, 2013
All of us at Western Carolinians for Criminal Justice want
to thank you for your friendship and support over the
30-year history of an organization that pioneered in
improving the criminal justice system.
We are writing to thank you for your help and to let you
know about the future of our signature program, Women at
Risk. Homeward Bound of Asheville, a program designed to
end homelessness, and Women At Risk, which helps women at
risk of incarceration, have embarked on a new partnership
that will merge the two programs.
We began to explore transition
possibilities last year in response to severe funding cuts
that threatened the program because we knew it would be a
great loss to some of the neediest women in our community
and to taxpayers if this program were to disappear.
We are pleased that we have been
able to work with Homeward Bound to develop a true
collaboration that benefits our clients and furthers the
work of restorative justice.
Through Homeward Bound, Women at Risk will continue to
serve women with our comprehensive treatment model, while
benefiting from more efficient and less costly
Our transition explorations began
after North Carolina legislative support for Women At Risk
dropped 75% from 2010 to 2012. For 17 years, WCCJ
received annual appropriations that accounted for nearly
half of the operating budget, with grants, gifts and
reimbursements for services making up the remainder of
income. The 2010-11 legislative appropriation of $246,258
was followed in 2011-12 with the elimination of all
appropriated funding in favor of a competitive contract with
the N.C. Department of Public Safety (formerly the Dept. of
Correction). WCCJ was awarded the contract, but
applications and funding were delayed for many months in the
new Department, leaving WCCJ with no state funding for much
In addition to these funding
reductions, reimbursement changes and State structural and
priority changes in mental health and substance abuse
treatment services created further financial challenges.
Funding changes required that the caseload be greatly
reduced, creating challenges for both staffing and funding.
We’re pleased to report that in the
new collaboration, current program clients and new
State-referred clients will be served for the duration of
the State contract and into the future. At present the WCCJ
Board is considering whether there is a future for the
organization, now that the Women at Risk Program has a new
The Board has already approved action
to share the WCCJ facility with Homeward Bound. This is the
historic Minnie Alexander Cottage at 218 Patton Avenue,
designed by noted architect Richard Sharp Smith. During
April the Homeward Bound administrative staff will be moving
into the WCCJ facility, joining our remaining Women at Risk
The Women At Risk Program began with
community-based therapy groups in 1988. Over time, it
developed a trademarked, proven
model with a long history of success in cost savings in
providing treatment and intervention for woman facing prison
time. Core Women At Risk program services include
group therapy, case management, and court advocacy.
Participants must complete all of their court requirements,
including probation, and make the changes necessary to
permanently exit the criminal justice system. More than 80%
percent of clients struggle with addiction, 89% are mothers,
and most are single heads of households. Most live in
poverty, have mental health diagnoses and a history of being
violently and sexually abused. More than half of Women at
Risk clients are homeless or in tenuous housing situations,
and thus the partnership with Homeward Bound will better
serve these need women.
Program evaluation shows that over 90
percent of Women At Risk graduates stay out of prison for at
least three years after completing the program. This is
significantly higher than the success rate of most other
Given the importance and impact of
Women at Risk, we are pleased that we have secured the
future of the program. We have just finalized our
partnership with Homeward Bound, and we hope that you will
provide friendship to this new entity and this new approach
to serving people in need.
Again, thank you for your support.
If you have questions or would like more information, please
contact me at 828-273-5335.
Lisa-Gaye Hall, President
WCCJ Board of Directors
Homeward Bound of Asheville