Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act moving

Pending legislation that has passed the House and Senate would establish a certain level of care as it pertains to pregnant women that are incarcerated.

House Bill 196, sponsored by Rep. Nick Bain, would limit the use of restraints on incarcerated inmates giving birth, provide certain care and consideration for pregnant and postpartum inmates, provide female hygiene items for inmates determined to be indigent, and place incarcerated mothers within a specified distance to their minor children.

The incarceration rate of women in Mississippi prisons has been on the rise with over 1,500 females in the Mississippi Department of Corrections system. National research shows that almost 80 percent of incarcerated women are mothers. Studies also show that children who grow up with incarcerated parents are six to seven times more likely to be incarcerated themselves. Allowing mothers to be in close proximity to their young children and access to visitation can promote good behavior, better post-release outcomes, and reduce recidivism rates.

If HB 196 is made law, this women’s dignity legislation would put Mississippi on par with the nationwide trend of reform as it relates to the prison system.

The legislation passed unanimously in both chambers. The House and Senate will now have to work out the bills in conference before a final bill can be adopted and sent to the governor.