Providing support for formerly incarcerated individuals after they exit the criminal justice system is a crucial step in ending mass incarceration. As more politicians and citizens begin to see the value in decreasing the country’s exorbitant prison population, the nation has started to make slow progress towards lasting reform. However, many individuals leave prison facing the same problems that led them to legal issues in the first place: addiction, lack of housing, poverty, mental health issues, and joblessness are just a few potential factors. Reentry service providers are needed now more than ever, and the Center for Women in Transition does an excellent job at providing this type of support for their clients. For nearly two decades, this organization has worked to end the vicious cycle of incarceration among women in the St. Louis area. The Center for Women in Transition inspires and guides People with Purpose in our mission to provide hope to individuals involved with the criminal justice system.
The Center for Women in Transition is a 501c3 organization based out of South St. Louis City, Missouri. The agency was founded in November of 1997 after a group of volunteers at a local jail noticed the same women cycling through the jail over and over again. The volunteers talked to the women about what factors kept them coming back, and identified several common themes that led back to recidivism: lack of support, lack of transportation, and lack of safe housing. The group started the Center for Women in Transition to address these three factors and help women leave the cycle of recidivism once and for all. In 2005, the agency expanded from their mentorship program to include transitional housing after the donation of the Courtois House (now the Baker House). The Center became the lead agency in Missouri’s Project Reconnect program in 2007, an ongoing collaboration between the state and several service providers to assist individuals who have been released from prison. A second transitional housing facility, the Schirmer House, was added in the spring of 2008. The Schirmer house operates in partnership with the Missouri Department of Corrections. Today, the Center is the leading reentry service provider for women in the St. Louis region.