State Representative Tina Davis (D-Bucks) is co-sponsoring a bipartisan measure that seeks to help incarcerated woman it was announced on Wednesday.
The bill introduced by Reps. Mike Jones (R-York) and Lori Mizgorski (R-Allegheny) and Rep. Morgan Cephas (D-Philadelphia) with Davis as a co-sponsor with extensive consultation and collaboration with the Department of Corrections, county wardens, corrections officers, various interest groups and subject matter experts, a list of best practices was developed that would benefit incarcerated women, their children and their families, officials said.
Pennsylvania has seen a significant increase in the number of incarcerated women in recent years. “This issue transcends partisanship and politics,” said Jones. “While these women need to serve their time like anyone else, they remain mothers, wives, sisters and daughters, and we should treat them with the same dignity we would our own.”
This bill would provide for the following well-vetted provisions at both the state and county level, with necessary oversight from children and youth services, and limited exceptions where extenuating circumstances and/or capacity constraints prevent safe practice and enforcement. With common-sense exceptions in all cases, the bill:
- Prohibits the shackling of pregnant women.
- Prohibits solitary confinement of pregnant women.
- Provides for trauma-informed care training of corrections officers interacting with pregnant and postpartum women.
- Provides for up to three days of post-delivery bonding time between mother and newborn child.
- Provides for accommodation of adequate visitation time between minor children and incarcerated individuals (male or female) who were the sole legal guardian of those minor children at the time of their arrest.
- Prohibits full body searches of incarcerated females by male guards.
- Provides for appropriate amount of feminine hygiene products at no cost to incarcerated women.
- Provides for limited coverage of cost to transport individuals to a safe location upon release.
“This legislation is the culmination of many voices who have been fighting for years for the health and well-being of incarcerated women. Depriving pregnant post-partum women of basic care or failing to provide the appropriate amount of feminine hygiene products – these practices are nothing short of unethical,” said Davis. “It is time to once and for all eliminate these outdated and cruel institutional methods against women.”
These best and most reasonable practices should be mandatory for all facilities and would ensure that our Commonwealth is not only just, but compassionate, said the release from the four members of The House.
The Dignity for Incarcerated Women bill has yet to be assigned a committee as of publication time.