Criminal justice team meets with Sen. Judy Schwank to discuss programs for women

Group meets with Senator Schwank

Pictured are Ebonie Cunningham Stringer, Penn State Berks; Kendra Chrynwski, Clare House resident; Nicole Park, Clare House staff; Salvatore DeFeo, Penn State Berks senior; Helene Senior, Clare House staff; Pam Mills, Clare House executive director; Sen. Judy Schwank; Audrey Mindy, senator's staff; Andrea Mertz, Clare House trustee; Eileen Doherty, Clare House staff.

Credit: Penn State

WYOMISSING, Pa. — This spring, a team from the Penn State Berks criminal justice degree program met with Pennsylvania State Sen. Judy Schwank and a Clare of Assisi House task force to discuss funding for programs that support women, particularly mothers returning to the community after incarceration.

Ebonie Cunningham Stringer, assistant professor of criminal justice at Penn State Berks, and Salvatore DeFeo, Penn State class of 2022, a criminal justice major at the college, met with Schwank, who expressed that she wants to be part of the solution to eliminating the barriers to success for women who have paid their debts to society.

During the meeting, the group of stakeholders, including previously incarcerated mothers, Clare House staff (including DeFeo), and Stringer discussed the needs and challenges women face, as well as the way forward for women who are returning to the Berks County community. Specific topics included family reunification programs, family diversion/alternative programs that keep women — especially pregnant mothers — in their communities, safe and sufficient housing that accommodates women and their children, and employment.

Cunningham Stringer’s research centers on maternal experiences in the criminal justice system, as well as other issues related to criminal and social justice.

About the Criminal Justice degree program
Students can earn a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice at Penn State Berks. Both degrees provide strong preparation for a growing market in corrections, parole and probation, law enforcement and courts. Writing, speaking, research and computer skills are also emphasized in each of the degree programs. The skills, combined with knowledge about sources of crime, the justice system and criminal justice policy, provide a strong foundation for students interested in a criminal justice career. The program's focus on the traditional liberal arts skills of critical thinking, analysis and communication will prepare students for a career in any criminal justice field.