Dignity For Incarcerated Women
SUMMARY: To improve the treatment of female inmates. To prohibit the use of restraints and restrictive housing on inmates during the period of pregnancy, labor and postpartum recovery.
An ACT regarding the care of state incarcerated pregnant women, family visitation rights, the access male correctional officers have in correctional facilities where a female inmate may be in a state of undress, access to feminine hygiene products in correctional facilities, and the education and training of employees of correctional facilities in which female inmates are housed.
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the “Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act”
SECTION 2. FINDINGS.
The state finds the following:
A) The number of incarcerated women in the State of _______ has increased by ____
percent from 19_ to 20_;
B) _____ percent of all incarcerated women have children under the age of eighteen (18);
C) Children who grow up with parents in prison are six to seven times more likely to
become incarcerated themselves;
D) Prisoners who maintain close contact with their family members while incarcerated
have better post-release outcomes and lower recidivism rates;
E) Children of inmates who are able to visit their imprisoned parents have increased
cognitive skills, improved academic self-esteem, greater self-control, and change
schools much less often;
F) To mitigate the collateral impact on families and children, the DOC should consider
the location of family;
G) The state of ______, estimates ______ women give birth while incarcerated each
H) Prenatal care significantly improves outcomes for pregnant women and infants;
I) Participation in post-delivery mother-infant residency or nursery programs is
associated with lower recidivism rates, reduced risk of babies entering foster care, and
improved odds that mothers and their babies will remain together after the mother’s
period of incarceration;
J) Use of restrictive housing and restraints on incarcerated pregnant women is
extremely dangerous to the health of mothers, fetuses, and infants; and
K) Nationally, eighty-six (86) percent of women in prison were victims of sexual assault
prior to entering the prison system.
SECTION 3. CARE FOR INCARCERATED WOMEN RELATED TO
PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH.
A) Limitation on Use of Restraints. Upon notification and/or diagnosis of an inmate’s
pregnancy, and for the duration of the pregnancy, and for thirty (30) days following the
inmate’s delivery, the Department of Corrections and/or a correctional facility employee
shall not apply the following restraints on the pregnant inmate:
1. Leg restraints
2. Handcuffs or other wrist restraints, except to restrain the inmate’s wrists in
front of her.
B) Restraints During Labor and Delivery. No restraints shall be used on any pregnant
inmate while in labor or during delivery unless a correctional facility employee has a
reasonable belief that the inmate will harm herself, the fetus, or any other person, or pose
a substantial flight risk. In such case, the correctional facility employee ordering use of
restraints on any female inmate while in labor or during delivery shall submit a written
report to the Director of the Department of Corrections within seventy-two (72) hours
following the use of restraints, containing the justification for restraining the female
inmate during labor and delivery.
C) Invasive Searches. No facility employee of the Department of Corrections other than a
certified healthcare professional shall conduct invasive body cavity searches of pregnant
inmates unless the correctional facility employee has a reasonable belief that the female
inmate is concealing contraband. In such case, the correctional facility employee shall
submit a written report to the Department of Corrections within seventy-two (72) hours
following the invasive search, containing the justification for the invasive search and
what contraband – if any – was recovered.
D) Nutrition. The Department of Corrections shall ensure that pregnant inmates be
provided sufficient food and dietary supplements to meet generally accepted prenatal
nutritional guidelines for pregnant women.
E) Restrictive Housing. The Department of Corrections shall not place any pregnant
inmate, or any female inmate who has given birth within the previous 30 days, in
restrictive housing unless it is necessary to safeguard the health of the female inmate or
her fetus or child. In such case, the correctional facility employee authorizing the
placement of the inmate in restrictive housing shall submit a written report to the Director
of the Department of Corrections within seventy-two (72) hours following the transfer,
containing the justification for confining the female inmate in restrictive housing.
F) Bed Assignments. The Department of Corrections shall not assign any pregnant
inmate to any bed that is elevated more than three (3) feet from the floor of the facility.
SECTION 4. INMATE POST-PARTUM RECOVERY.
A) Restraints During Postpartum Recovery. No restraints shall be used on any female
inmate who has given birth within the last thirty (30) days and is in postpartum recovery,
unless the Department of Corrections has a reasonable belief that the female inmate will
harm herself, her newborn, or any other person, or pose a substantial flight risk. In such
case, the facility employee ordering use of restraints on any inmate while in postpartum
recovery shall submit a written report to the Director of the Department of Corrections
within seventy-two (72) hours following the use of restraints, containing the justification
for restraining the female inmate during postpartum recovery.
B) Bonding Period. Following the delivery of a newborn, by an inmate, the Department
of Corrections shall permit the newborn to remain with the mother for seventy-two (72)
C) Nutritional and Hygiene Products. During that time, the Department of Corrections
shall make available the necessary nutritional and hygiene products, including diapers,
to care for the newborn.
D) Indigent Mothers. If the female inmate qualifies as indigent, such products shall be
provided without cost to the inmate.
SECTION 5. FAMILY CONSIDERATIONS IN INMATE PLACEMENT AND
A) Placement. To the greatest extent possible, after accounting for security and capacity
factors, the Department of Corrections shall place female inmates within 250 miles of
their permanent address of record.
B) Visitation. The Department of Corrections shall promulgate regulations authorizing
visitation of female inmates by minor dependents, with the minimum following
1. Opportunities for dependent children under the age of eighteen (18) to visit
their incarcerated mother at least two (2) days per week.
2. Eliminating restrictions on the number of dependent children under the age of
eighteen (18) that may be permitted visitation privileges.
3. Authorizing contact visits for female inmates with low or minimum security
C) Overnight Visitation Pilot Program. The Director of the Department of Corrections
shall establish a pilot program authorizing overnight visits for children under the age of
SECTION 6. INSPECTIONS BY EMPLOYEES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF
A) Inspections Where a Female is in the State of Undress. To the greatest extent possible,
the Director of the Department of Corrections shall issue regulations that limit
inspections by male correctional officers where a female inmate is in a state of undress.
Nothing in this Section shall limit the ability of a male correctional officer from
conducting inspections where a female may be in a state of undress if no female
correctional officers are available.
B) Documentation Requirement. In such case, that a male correctional officer is required
to conduct an inspection while the female inmate may be in a state of undress, the
correctional officer shall submit a written report to the Director of the Department of
Corrections within seventy-two (72) hours following the inspection, containing the
justification for a male correctional officer to inspect the female inmate.
SECTION 7. ACCESS TO FEMININE HYGIENE PRODUCTS.
A) Access to Menstrual Hygiene Products. The Department of Corrections shall ensure
that sufficient menstrual hygiene products are available at each facility for all
incarcerated women that have an active menstrual cycle.
B) Indigent Prisoners. Female inmates who otherwise qualify as indigent shall be
provided menstrual hygiene products as needed at no cost.
SECTION 8. TRAINING AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE.
A) Correctional Facility Employee and Correctional Officer Training. The Department
of Corrections shall develop and provide to all correctional facility employees and
correctional officers who have contact with pregnant inmates training related to the
physical and mental health of pregnant inmates and fetuses, including:
1. General care of pregnant women;
2. The impact of restraints on pregnant inmates and fetuses;
3. The impact of being placed in restrictive housing on pregnant inmates; and
4. The impact of invasive searches on pregnant inmates.
B) Educational Programming for Pregnant Inmates. The Department of Corrections shall
develop and provide educational programming for pregnant inmates related to:
1. Prenatal care;
2. Pregnancy-specific hygiene;
3. Parenting skills;
4. The impact of alcohol and drugs on the fetus; and
5. General health of child.
SECTION 9. DEFINITIONS.
1. Restraints: The term “restraints” means any physical or mechanical device used to
restrict or control the movement of a prisoner’s body, limbs, or both.
2. Body cavity searches: The term “body cavity searches” refers to invasive searches on
inmates, conducted by facility employees in search of contraband.
3. Flight risk: The term “flight risk” means an inmate who has shown the desire to escape
4. Restrictive housing: The term “restrictive housing” means any type of detention that
a. Removal from the general inmate population, whether voluntary or involuntary;
c. Inability to leave the room or cell for the vast majority of the day.
5. Postpartum recovery: The term “postpartum recovery” means the eight-week period,
or longer as determined by the healthcare professional responsible for the health and
safety of the prisoner.
6. Menstrual hygiene products: The term “menstrual hygiene products” refers to products
that women use during their menstrual cycle. This includes tampons, sanitary napkins,
and menstrual cups.
7. Indigent: The term “indigent” refers to an inmate who has less than an average of $16 in their prison account.
8. Correctional facility employee: The term “correctional facility employee” refers to
anyone who is employed by the facility or the State Department of Corrections.