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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: September 10, 2020 04:19 PM
From: Representative Morgan Cephas and Rep. Mike Jones, Rep. Tina M. Davis
To: All House members
Subject: Restoring Dignity to Incarcerated Women
Since the late 1980s, the number of women incarcerated in Pennsylvania has skyrocketed, with 2,628 individuals currently serving time at State Correction Institution (SCI) Muncy and SCI Cambridge Springs.  While incarcerated, women, especially those who are pregnant or post-partum, are forced to face a number of conditions that can severely affect their health and the health of their children.  We must immediately address the needs of our incarcerated women to rectify and prevent trauma and create an environment that encourages and supports rehabilitation and healthy reentry. Furthermore, as nearly 80 percent of these women are primary care givers to minor children prior to their incarceration we must also support practices that are in the best interest of the growing child(ren).

Our legislation aims to achieve this by introducing a number of commonsense changes to our current laws, including:
  • Updating current restraint laws to better document restraint use and protect the mental and physical wellbeing of pregnant women and their children;
  • Prohibiting restrictive housing for pregnant or postpartum women and detainees;
  • Requiring all correctional institution employees who have contact with pregnant, incarcerated individuals to undergo comprehensive, professional training related to pregnancy, post-partum, and trauma-informed care;
  • Creating an environment which promotes and supports sustainability of healthy parent-child relationships by treating the mother with dignity and providing the children with some degree of normalcy during her incarceration; and
  • Providing a variety of feminine hygiene and incontinence products to incarcerated individuals at no cost to meet their basic human needs.
Although current Department of Corrections policy provides for a number of similar safety precautions and supports, we must do more to make sure that the Commonwealth’s population of incarcerated women is permanently protected at all levels including the county and state levels.  Incarceration is not meant to be pleasant by any means, however, a person should not be forced to endure inhumane treatment that can lead to further and severe mental and physical health concerns for themselves and their children, nor should they be denied necessary feminine hygiene products .  Please join us in restoring dignity to incarcerated women throughout Pennsylvania by supporting this sensible legislation.

Introduced as HB2875