Gov. Malloy Announces ‘Fair Treatment for Incarcerated Women’ Legislative Proposal; Participates in National Day of Empathy
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that he is proposing legislation aimed at strengthening Connecticut’s efforts to bring fairness and dignity to incarcerated women. The proposal will prohibit the shackling of pregnant inmates during labor, require the Department of Correction (DOC) to provide female inmates with feminine hygiene products at no cost, establish child friendly visitation policies, and require DOC to develop and implement a policy regarding transgender inmates, among other measures.
The announcement of this proposal comes as the Governor participates in the Day of Empathy, a national day of action organized by #cut50 – a bipartisan initiative aimed at reducing the prison population while making our communities safer.
“Individuals in our criminal justice system deserve to be treated with fairness, dignity, and human decency,” Governor Malloy said. “Incarcerated women face unique challenges and barriers to success – a consideration that should be reflected in our policies. The legislation announced today will further the strides Connecticut has made in improving our criminal justice system to one based on reform instead of permanent punishment, while at the same time reducing crime.”
“It’s most fitting, that on a day being referred to as a national Day Of Empathy, I have the opportunity to spend the morning with Governor Malloy and the First Lady at one of our agency halfway house programs,” DOC Commissioner Scott Semple said. “The Malloy administration will certainly leave a legacy of criminal justice reforms that placed an emphasis on empathy, humanity, and second chances.”
Research shows that women who are involved in the criminal justice system are more likely to have histories of abuse, trauma, mental health, and substance use problems. According to the Vera Institute, nearly 60 percent of women in state prisons across the country have a history of physical or sexual abuse and 82 percent of women in jail have drug or alcohol abuse dependence. Vera’s report explored the ways in which incarceration further traumatizes women, leading to a cycle of trauma for survivors who end up in the system. Routine correctional procedures, like full body searches, can be re-traumatizing for survivors of abuse. Their crimes are also less violent, mostly property and drug related. Nearly 80 percent of women in jails are mothers. This proposal seeks to reduce recidivism by treating female inmates with dignity and fairness.
This proposal will:
- Prohibit shackling of pregnant inmates during labor;
- Require DOC to provide female inmates with feminine hygiene products at no cost;
- Require DOC to establish child friendly visitation policies;
- Prohibit non-medical staff of the opposite gender from viewing or interfering with incarcerated women engaged in personal activities such as undressing, using toilet facilities, or showering;
- Require DOC to establish and provide parenting support as well as pre-natal and post-partum services and supports;
- Require DOC, the Board of Pardons and Paroles, and the Court Support Services Division of the judicial branch to utilize a gender responsible approach to risk assessment strategies that recognizes the unique risks and needs of female offenders;
- Enhance requirements for gender-specific and trauma-related trainings for correctional staff; and
- Require DOC to develop and implement a policy regarding transgender inmates.
“#cut50 is honored to continue to support Governor Malloy’s office in their work to increase the humanity of the Connecticut justice system,” Jessica Jackson Sloan, National Director of #cut50, said. “They have been leaders in finding smart solutions that decrease the prison population and crime in Connecticut. We applaud their decision to bring dignity to the women living inside the walls and are grateful for the Governor’s support for Day of Empathy.”
More information on the national Day of Empathy, is available online at www.cut50.org/day_of_empathy.
The Governor’s legislation on these proposals is Senate Bill 13, An Act Concerning Fair Treatment of Incarcerated Women. It has been referred to the Joint Committee on Judiciary.