Women Initiating New Directions

All women deserve to live fulfilling lives.
Women with a history or risk of incarceration have the potential to change their lives for the better – to stay safe, plan a better future, and contribute to their communities. WIND is here to help that happen.

The Need

More than 36,000 women are released from Illinois prisons each year, with many more waiting in jail to resume their lives and reunite with family. With your help, WIND can reach out to more women in need.

Women’s incarceration has grown at twice the pace of men’s incarceration in recent decades, according to Prison Policy Initiative, and a “staggering number” languish in local jails, without even having been convicted. WIND’s jail workshops offer meaningful opportunities to make the most of their time in incarceration, learning from and connecting with their feedback coaches.

The vast majority of incarcerated women should be in treatment – not prison.
“By almost any measure, women in prison are worse off than men…..Furthermore, the underlying causes of women’s criminal behavior are distinct from men’s and show they would be better served in treatment programs in their communities than by criminal legal system punishments.”

News and Resources

Reflecting on my Internship at WIND

By Brooke Williams — This summer, I had the privilege of collaborating with WIND as part of Northwestern’s Engage Chicago program. Engage Chicago stands as a unique summer avenue, offering an opportunity to deeply explore and understand the city through the lens of civic engagement. During my time with WIND,


Why I wanted to be involved with WIND

By Penny Hirsch, PhD —  My short answer: Because helping formerly incarcerated women gain the skills they need to live independently is one small way to give back to people who have been ignored and mistreated by the U.S. criminal justice system and our society in general. In addition, WIND


The Tool Box for Life: Finding Good in the World

By Grace Lemon — “If you put good in, good is going to come back to you.”  On July 27th, two of WIND’s volunteers sat down for a phone interview with 72-year-old Linda G. We spoke to her about her experience with the criminal justice system and the support systems