“When looking at the criminal justice system, there is both a family component and a fiscal component, and when those merge together we end with the need to respect all human life.” - Congressman Mark Walker
The number of women in prison increased by more than 700% from 1980-2014, and 62% of women in state prisons report to be mothers of minor children. There are more than 2.7 million children of incarcerated parents in this country, approximately half of which are younger than 10 years old. Many of these mothers are needlessly sent hundreds of miles from their families, making it extremely difficult or financially impossible for their children to visit. A study from the Russell Sage Foundation found that the incarceration of a family member directly correlates with a 64% decline in household assets, magnifying poverty and the race gap in America.
In response to these staggering statistics, there is a growing trend to build facilities that allow young children to stay with their mothers during incarceration. In addition to supporting this trend, the Department of Corrections should take into consideration the location of an inmate’s spouse, child, stepchild, parent, and stepparent when determining the location of the facility in which to place her and establish special policies for incarcerated mothers regarding visitation by their children, physical contact, and frequency of visits.Recent News: Dignity for Incarcerated Women Advances At ALEC. American Conservative Union Scores Win With Approval of Model ALEC Bill.
Washington, D.C. – At the winter meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), ALEC’s Criminal Justice Task Force adopted landmark model legislation on incarcerated women. The “Dignity for Incarcerated Women” model bill is intended to provide a template for every state legislature to improve policies for women behind bars. This key effort was sponsored by the American Conservative Union Foundation (ACUF), along with key ALEC members, Rep. Bernie Satrom (R-ND) and Rep. Kim Moser (R-KY). This is anACT 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. The full text can be found here.
- Place an inmate who has a child in a correctional facility as close as possible to that child’s place of residence
- Establish policies that encourage and promote visitation, particularly for inmates who are primary caretaker parents, including but not limited to:
- Allowing visitation at least six days per week, including Saturday and Sunday, for at least eight hours per day;
- Prohibiting restrictions on the number of children allowed to visit an inmate
- Creating an overnight visit pilot program for inmates and their children;
- Authorizing up to five adult visitors; and
- Authorizing contact visits.
- Implement prison childcare facilities for mothers with infants and young children so that they can form attachment bonds with their children