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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: June 21, 2018 09:28 AM
From: Representative Joanna E. McClinton
To: All House members
Subject: Co-Sponsorship: Dignity for Incarcerated Women and Parents Package: Ensuring Healthy Inmate Re-Entry
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation that would ensure inmates released from prison have the health care and financial supports they need to successfully transition back into their communities. 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.

Prisons are constitutionally mandated to provide health care, but that responsibility ends upon release, putting inmates struggling with ailments, addiction or mental health concerns at risk of re-lapsing. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that former inmates are 12 times likelier to die in the two weeks following their release from prison than other residents of their state. Some offenders walk out of prison without supports in place to keep them healthy or ease the transition back into the workforce.

The Department of Corrections and Department of Human Services recently entered into an agreement to assist every inmate in completing an application for medical assistance prior to release. This is an important first step, but I believe more needs to be done. My legislation would codify that application assistance in state law and expand it to other state and federal benefit programs, including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women, Infants and Children (WIC), home heating assistance, long-term living services, and subsidized child care.

For some offenders, the support of these programs is vital to their successful reintegration in the community, providing a helping hand as they get back on their feet and reducing the likelihood they will again end up behind bars. Please join me in sponsoring this important legislation. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (717) 772-9850.

Introduced as HB2667