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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: June 21, 2018 10:15 AM
From: Representative Morgan Cephas
To: All House members
Subject: Creating a Greater Focus on Women and Girls in the Criminal Justice System
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation that would establish a Women and Girls Committee within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD). The bill is part of a package, sponsored by the Legislative Black Caucus’s Women and Girls of Color Subcommittee, which aims to bring more dignity to incarcerated women and parents.

There are more than 200,000 women and girls incarcerated in the United States at federal, state and local prisons, a figure that has increased more than 700 percent since 1980. The stresses of the criminal justice system and its impact can be distinctly different for female offenders than for men. A woman’s children – even the unborn – can be affected. A recent analysis by the Center for American Progress found that the cumulative stress endured by African-American women who come into contact with the criminal justice system has contributed to a 15-percent gap in infant mortality rates between white women and women of color.

That’s why my legislation would require PCCD to create a new committee focused specifically on issues affecting females. The Women and Girls Committee would be made up of representatives from PCCD’s other standing committees and subcommittees that touch on issues confronting female offenders and those who may be at risk of becoming system-involved. Establishing this new committee would provide a way for policy makers to bring research, data, observations and policy changes that arise in their narrow areas together to craft a comprehensive plan that addresses issues specific to women and girls. The committee’s work would also improve preventative efforts to keep girls out of the system, as well as those reentering the community.

Please join me in sponsoring this legislation to provide our criminal justice policy makers with a new tool to enact effective and beneficial recommendations for system-involved women and girls.

Introduced as HB2665