Women Just Want Be Treated With Dignity: New bill proposes improvements to conditions for women in US prisons

A new bill presented by two Democratic senators seeks to promote humane treatment of women in US prisons, the Huffington Post reports.

The Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act, recently unveiled by Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren, aims to make it compulsory for federal prisons to provide inmates with free sanitary towels and tampons, and ban the use of shackling or solitary confinement for pregnant women. Additionally, the bill proposes longer visiting hours, free phone calls and the detention of inmates in prisons closer to their children in order to help keep families together.

If it is passed, the new law will not affect the majority of the women in detention in the USA, who are largely held in state prisons or local jails. It will however apply to women in federal prisons—nearly 13,000 out of 200,000, a number which has rapidly risen in recent decades.

The majority of women prisoners are in the USA have a history of abuse, mental health problems and drug use. Most are also mothers, and nearly three-quarters were living in poverty prior to their incarceration. This prison population is very vulnerable, “in need of therapy, in need of healing, and in need of support”.

Prisoners Abroad advocates compassionate treatment of prisoners, whatever their sentence. Many female prisoners overseas lack access to feminine healthcare, even in the USA, so we provide these women with grants for sanitary products to maintain their comfort and dignity.

We also believe that keeping families together is central to maintaining prisoners’ well-being and enabling ex-prisoners to rebuild their lives after release. We strive to ensure this by providing prisoners with freepost envelopes and phone cards to keep in touch with home, and we help families through support groups and travel grants to visit their loved ones in prison.

Our Spring Appeal 2017 takes a closer look at the plight of women in prison. Read Tina’s moving story here.

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