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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: May 22, 2019 11:49 AM
From: Representative Tina M. Davis
To: All House members
Subject: Dignity for Incarcerated Women: Prohibiting Restrictive Housing for Pregnant and Post-Partum Individuals and Detainees
For the almost 47,000 inmates in Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system, the prospect of facing solitary confinement or other forms of restrictive housing can be terrifying. The unethical and inhumane practice of placing our most vulnerable populations in isolation for days, weeks, or even months on end can have devastating effects. For expecting mothers, these effects become even worse. Restrictive housing deprives individuals of normal human interaction, access to reading materials, and greatly contributes to a variety of negative physiological and psychological reactions, such as hallucinations, depression, anxiety, and paranoia, all of which are detrimental to the health of both mother and child.

My proposal, which prohibits the use of restrictive housing on pregnant and post-partum individuals in Pennsylvania, aims to protect the health and well-being of expecting mothers in both state and county facilities. It would also require alternative discipline, such as revoking phone or visiting privileges, to be used in place of restrictive housing. Similar to the state’s current restraining laws, all instances where a pregnant or post-partum individual or detainee is placed in restrictive housing will need to be recorded. In addition, my legislation would also require medical professionals, such as a doctor or nurse, and the warden of the facility to evaluate and approve the use of restrictive housing for a pregnant or post-partum individual.
There is no benefit to placing someone in isolation, and the excessive use of restrictive housing in our correctional facilities is cruel and unnecessary. The time has come for us to take a hard look at our criminal justice system, and I believe it is our duty as public servants to do everything in our power to protect all of our constituents. Please join me in this fight to protect the rights of one of our most vulnerable prison populations and support them on their journey towards rehabilitation.

Introduced as HB1632