HARRISBURG – Legislation to support incarcerated women has earned House approval. Rep. Lori Mizgorski (R-Allegheny) authored House Bill 1419
, with the help of Reps. Mike Jones (R-York), Morgan Cephas (D-Philadelphia) and Tina Davis (D-Bucks).
“While we believe in supporting a system that serves justice, women who are incarcerated face unique challenges regarding their health and the health of their children,” said Mizgorski. “These women are mothers, wives, daughters and sisters. Addressing their needs is in the best interest of everyone.”
In recent decades Pennsylvania has seen an increase in the number of incarcerated women. Through collaboration with the Department of Corrections, county wardens, corrections officers, advocacy groups and formerly incarcerated women, a list of best practices was developed that would benefit incarcerated women, their children and their families. Many of these practices are already in use. This legislation would formalize them in statute.
This bill would provide for the following well-vetted provisions at both the state and county level, with necessary oversight from children and youth services, and limited exceptions where extenuating circumstances and/or capacity constraints prevent safe practice and enforcement. With commonsense exceptions in all cases, the bill:
• Prohibits the shackling of pregnant women.
• Prohibits placing pregnant women in restrictive housing.
• Provides for trauma-informed care training of corrections officers interacting with pregnant and postpartum women.
• Provides for up to three days of post-delivery bonding time between mother and newborn child.
• Provides for accommodation of adequate visitation time between minor children and incarcerated individuals (male or female).
• Prohibits full body searches of incarcerated females by male guards.
• Provides for appropriate amount of feminine hygiene products at no cost to incarcerated women.
• Provides for limited coverage of cost to transport individuals to a safe location upon release.
“Meeting the needs of incarcerated women and treating them with dignity will better prepare them for life when they return to their families and communities,” Mizgorski said.
House Bill 1419 now awaits consideration by the Senate.
Representative Lori Mizgorski
30th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Michelle Swab