Warden Jennie Hansen

Jennie Hansen became warden of the Montana Women’s Prison in November 2017. Previously, she was the Eastern Region Bureau Chief for the Probation and Parole (P&P) Division. Since 2009 she has served in various leadership levels within the P&P division, served as a member of the Commission on Sentencing, and served as a member of the Montana Board of Crime Control.

Montana Women’s Prison in Billings is a 194-bed secure facility that operates consistently at or over capacity, with approximately 200 female felony inmates. The state-run facility provides a secure environment that emphasizes accountability, productivity and personal growth.

Montana Women's Prison has a staff of about 92, including 20 contract personnel.

Recovery & Reentry Program

The Montana Women’s Prison provides an environment that is designed to improve outcomes for women’s recovery and reentry into Montana communities, by emphasizing personal accountability, public safety and restorative justice for crime victims.

The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA) defines “recovery” as a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential. Montana Women’s Prison inmates define recovery and reentry more personally:

"We strive for positive change, personal growth and accountability in recovery. We embrace hope, healthy relationships, and faith in ourselves as we re-enter our communities as strong, respectful, responsible women."

The state-run prison’s operation utilizes a recovery/reentry model as part of the process for preparing women for reentry into their communities. Programs that are available to the women are medical and dental services, mental health, chemical dependency, educational, work and parenting.

More than 90 percent of all inmates at the Women’s Prison are involved in educational, vocational and recovery/reentry programmings.

The prison strives to promote child-parent bonding and development of parenting skills in preparation for family reunification. Special family “Kids’ Day” events occur once a month under the supervision of parenting staff to promote positive relationships.

The prison’s educational programs include classes to obtain high school-equivalency diplomas, college preparation classes, and courses to learn computer, personal and job-related skills.

In partnership with the prison, correctional enterprises offer inmates vocational training opportunities through the prison industries program. Industries such as garment and apparel print-screening, direct-printing, design work and embroidery, as well as assembling hygiene kits for prisoners. The prison paws program was started in 2004. It is a canine training program which allows inmates an opportunity to learn new skills and improve self-esteem while socializing canines, and teaching them basic manners so the canines are better community members. A garden project, launched in 2012, has enhanced the nutritional variety available to inmates and when an abundance of produce is available donations are made to the community food bank. The women who work in the garden and greenhouse can earn their master gardener certification in addition to life-skills and technical on-the-job training in greenhouse operations.

The programs offered by the prison are enhanced by community partnerships and the large number of volunteers who donate time to bring in faith-based, physical wellbeing/prevention, substance abuse treatment and education, healthy relationships, cognitive/behavioral strategies and life skills, creative arts programming, and victim awareness programs and activities. Victims who participate in restorative justice programs such as a victim awareness panel often experience healing; and it strengthens the inmate’s accountability and understanding of the harm they created through their crime while promoting a social bond to the community. These programs encourage change in inmates and provide ties to community, while allowing them to give back in a positive and productive way through interactions and community service projects.

The Billings Area Reentry Task Force is a collaborative partnership made up of community stakeholders; the Montana Department of Labor, Montana State University Billings, Montana Department of Corrections, other government entities, faith and community-based organizations and other interested local parties who promote the removal of barriers which may impede successful offender re-entry. This holistic approach starts at the point of contact with the criminal justice system focusing on employment, relationships and family, health services, alcohol and other drug treatment, and housing needs during an inmate’s transition from prison to the community.