Date of Publication


Project Team

Amy O'Meara, DrNP (advisor)


Background and Objective(s): Unplanned pregnancies are disproportionately high among female inmates, and incarceration provides a unique opportunity for care may be otherwise difficult to obtain, including reproductive health and family planning services, specifically the provision of contraception. It is known that women are 14 times more likely to initiate contraception if education and services are provided within the prison (Clarke et al., 2006b). Despite decades of research identifying the unmet need, very few prisons around the country provide any sort of sexual health or family planning care to prisoners (Braithwaite, Treadwell, & Arriola, 2008).

Methods: This project involves the creation of new program and implementation of a new model of care within the existing health care structure at Vermont’s sole women’s prison, Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility (CRCF). First, determination of the most appropriate model of care; second, building a curriculum based on existing evidence-based practice guidelines; and third, implementation of the program using a one-year pilot program. Quality metrics, as yet undetermined and beyond the scope of this project, will need to be monitored throughout the year by the research and quality team within the prison to measure impact of the new program.

Results: Partnership with the Vermont Department of Justice, Department of Corrections, Centurion Health, and Planned Parenthood was necessary for completion of the project. A one-year pilot program begins June 2017, including group and individual education sessions and coordination with staff to expand family planning services within the existing health care clinic, as well as a referral system for care outside of the scope of the clinic.

Implications: Despite decades of research demonstrating the need and female inmates desire to obtain contraception before discharge from prison, multiple barriers to accessing care still exist, making reproductive services limited in U.S. women’s prisons. The pilot program will serve as a model for other prisons, and quality measures throughout the year will be vital in demonstrating the success of the program. Extreme attention to ethics and adaptations appropriate to working with a vulnerable population of imprisoned women were central to the completion of this project.

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