Bill Breaks New Ground for Rights of Women and Transgender People Who are Incarcerated in Connecticut
HARTFORD: Yesterday, the CT House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 13: An Act Concerning Fair Treatment of Incarcerated Women. The bill, supported by Governor Malloy who is expected to sign, establishes a range of rules and reforms intended to protect the dignity and safety of incarcerated women and transgender people, and their families. Changes include: strengthening visitation policies for all prisoners with children under age 18; permitting specific privacy-related parameters for staff of the opposite gender regarding certain people; developing and implementing a policy regarding the safety and protection of transgender inmates; and requires DOC to provide imprisoned female and pregnant prisoners with feminine hygiene products free of charge.
The legislation also includes important rules that would improve prenatal healthcare for people who are pregnant at admission, and further requires the DOC, the Board or Pardons and Paroles, and the judicial branch's Court Support Services Division (CSSD) to use a gender-responsive approach in their risk assessment strategy.
The bill makes Connecticut one of the first states in the union to pass a law that protects the safety and dignity of transgender people who are incarcerated by acknowledging people’s gender identity, providing services, and housing people based on their gender identity. You can find the full bill and review its path through the legislature this Legislative Session here.
Advocates and community groups have been pushing for these change for some time. Katal joined the effort to pass the bill; the campaign was led by Planned Parenthood of Southern New England and the ACLU of CT.
Janice Flemming Butler, President of Voices of Women of Color (VOWOC) said: “For the thousands of women and our families in Connecticut, burdened with felony convictions, these changes are long overdue. The State of Connecticut’s Department of Corrections policies have far too long been non-responsive to the life threatening experiences women and transgender people go through. This measure should bring attention and measurable action to the mistreatment of women, transgender persons, and parents incarcerated in this state.”
Louis Reed, Policy Strategist at the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice, said: “This bill represents important progress to protect the safety and dignity of women and transgender people incarcerated in Connecticut. Just because someone enters into a prison cell, that does not mean they should be denied access to basic feminine necessities as sanitary pads, or if they are pregnant to receive less-than-adequate prenatal care. By prohibiting all forms of shackling during labor or delivery at any time, and establishing family-centric visitation policies, Connecticut is putting human dignity and the needs of families first. We are proud to stand with our partners at ACLU of CT in supporting this bill.” You can read Louis' full testimony before the Judiciary Committee here.