Lawmakers advocate for the fair treatment of incarcerated women

March 29, 2018

A group of advocates gathered at the state Capitol to call on legislators to respect incarcerated women’s health, human rights and dignity by passing Senate Bill 13, “An Act Concerning Fair Treatment of Incarcerated Women.”

The bill, which comes after a pregnant woman was forced to give birth in her cell at York Correctional Facility, would: prevent the state from shackling incarcerated women during pregnancy or labor; require the state to provide incarcerated women with sufficient menstrual supplies; create family-centric visitation policies; ensure incarcerated women are able to shower and perform other bodily functions without non-medical staff of the opposite sex viewing their bodies; and establish prenatal and postpartum support, including lactation policies, for pregnant and postpartum incarcerated women.

Currently, Connecticut law does not prevent the state Department of Correction from shackling incarcerated women during pregnancy or labor, and state restrictions on the number and type of menstrual products freely available to incarcerated women force many to either buy supplies themselves or do without.

“While Connecticut has been a leader in criminal justice reform, our state prisons have yet to address the unique challenges women face while imprisoned. Our incarcerated women are trapped in a system that is designed for men. As the primary caregivers for their families, it is crucial that these women are treated with dignity and respect, and are given a platform for successful reentry. Senate Bill 13 would prohibit incarcerated women from being shackled during pregnancy and labor; require the state to provide them with sufficient menstrual supplies; create family-centric visitation policies; ensure incarcerated women are able to shower and perform other bodily functions without being subjected to non-medical staff of the opposite sex viewing their nude bodies; and establish prenatal and postpartum support, inclusive of lactation policies. To me, it’s a no-brainer. This is a public health and human rights issue, and it’s past time for Connecticut to do the right thing and restore incarcerated women with the dignity and respect they deserve,” said state Rep. Robyn Porter, D-New Haven.

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