Incarcerated Women’s Program

incarceratedIn 2002, Through These Doors conducted a study which found that approximately 95% of incarcerated women were currently or previously in an abusive intimate relationship.

Recognizing the connection between incarceration and domestic abuse, we began to offer support groups for incarcerated women at the Cumberland County Jail (CCJ), Maine Correctional Center (MCC), and Southern Maine Women’s Re-entry Center (SMWRC). We are one of only a handful of domestic violence agencies in the country that offer such programs.

Facilitated Educational Support Groups:

Cumberland County Jail

The incarcerated women’s advocate offers twice-weekly support groups for women who are or have been victims of domestic violence. These groups are open, educational discussions that provide information on identifying abuse, patterns of abuse, why women stay, effects of abuse, healthy relationships, and self-care.

Maine Correctional Center

The incarcerated women’s advocate facilitates ongoing support groups for incarcerated women at MCC where topics may include exploring self & relationships, art, reading groups, and creative writing. TTD’s own curriculum, “Stories from the Life,” addresses the impact of sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

Our additional services for incarcerated women include:

  • Confidential one-on-one discussions
  • Information and referrals for community resources
  • Information and referrals about services provided by domestic violence projects
  • Safety planning for release

Art Exhibit: “More Than a Rap Sheet: The Real Stories of Incarcerated Women”


In 2007, Through These Doors began offering creative writing groups in addition to existing educational groups through their incarcerated women’s program. During the writing groups, participants read a variety of genre including poetry, short stories and excerpts from novels, and write creative and autobiographical pieces. One poem they read, The Truth About Us by Terri Haven, a social worker who researches prisons, resonated with many of the participants. After reading the poem, the women wrote their own “Truth about Me” pieces, the poems featured in More Than A Rap Sheet. The project is a moving exhibit that consists of twenty-seven poems and twenty-one portraits of incarcerated women in Maine. From the exhibit, we created a brief slideshow that can be shown to classes and conscious-raising groups to foster discussion amongst participants.

My Sister’s Keeper

Maine’s Women Offenders: What do we Know?

Experts: Number of Women in Maine Prisons has Grown Sixfold since 2002

Resources for Incarcerated Parents

Sesame Street: Little Children, Big Challenges

National Resources:

Meridians for Incarcerated Women

National Clearinghouse in the Defense of Battered Women (NCDBW)

NIC Services in Managing Justice Involved Women

National Resource Center on Justice Involved Women (NRCJIW)

Turning Points Curriculum

Women’s Prison Association (WPA)

“10 Truths That Matter When Working with Justice Involved Women”

“Best Practices in the Use of Restraints with Pregnant Women & Girls Under Correctional Custody” (NCRJIW, 2014)

“The Shackling of Incarcerated Pregnant Women: A Human Rights Violation Committed Regularly in the United States” (University of Chicago/ACLU, 2013)