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Black Women's Health & Self-Care in Reentry

A qualitative research study to understand the health needs of formerly incarcerated Black women who have or are transitioning home to their communities from confinement.

What We're Doing

NBWJI is conducting a qualitative research study—Pathways to Wellness: Black Women’s Health & Self-Care in Reentry—that will learn directly from formerly incarcerated Black women to understand their health needs, how they access healthcare, and barriers to care. This study will focus exclusively on Black women to understand the specific race and gender-related factors that promote health and wellness among formerly incarcerated Black women returning to their communities from confinement. 


The goals of this study are to:

  • Learn from formerly incarcerated women about their healthcare needs and how they access services.

  • Increase knowledge about and improve health outcomes of formerly incarcerated women. 

  • Expand the landscape of available services and facilitate healthcare access.


Our Approach

We are partnering directly with formerly incarcerated women who are leading California-based organizations that provide reentry services. Based on what we learn, we will advocate for policy recommendations that increase access to gender responsive and culturally affirming reentry services.  


Because the status quo of criminalization and punishment causes more trauma and does not heal or increase public safety, it’s critical that we advocate for access to and expansion of services that support and promote healing and connection and help Black women and girls reclaim their power.

Contact Dr. Janaé Bonsu-Love for more information.

Why We're Doing It

More than 230,000 women are incarcerated in the United States. Black women are not only disproportionately incarcerated, but we also tend to experience worse health outcomes compared to white and Hispanic women. Mass incarceration may be an underlying cause of the persistent inequities in overall health, reproductive health, and mental health outcomes experienced by formerly incarcerated Black women.

Lack of research examining the health of incarcerated Black women exclusively makes it difficult to know the actual breadth of racial disparities. Although research describing factors that support women’s reentry exists, few studies explore how women navigate returning home, and none explore how race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, age, and geographical location interact to shape the reentry experiences of formerly incarcerated women and their health, especially the experiences of Black women who are disproportionately represented within this population.

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