Most women in prison are the victims of abuse and suffer from mental health issues–inhumane prison conditions aren’t helping.
By Andie Park
Earlier this month, Senators Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren publicly introduced the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act, a landmark bill to improve living conditions for female inmates who are also the primary caretakers of their families.
Some of the provisions of the bill address fairly straightforward and common-sense needs such as creating better access to feminine hygiene products and expanding visitation policies for the families of inmates. Other provisions, however, reveal a more horrifying system of abuse in federal facilities for women.
Until the introduction of this bill, the shackling of pregnant inmates was still legal. In federal facilities, several women sacrifice the decision to make a phone call to family members in order to buy box a tampons from their commissary – or vice versa – due to the exorbitant costs tied to each choice.
The alarmingly vast lack of protections stems from the institutional inability to include women in legal discussions for reform. Whether it be solitary confinement or going into childbirth while shackled, these actions were still technically legal mainly because legislative measures never accounted for the difference of struggles between female and male inmates. Ultimately, the bill is a push for the Bureau of Prisons to confront its own gender bias and make concentrated efforts to not only protect female inmates but also restore a semblance of human dignity during their incarceration.
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