HB 196: Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act


House Bill 196, sponsored by Representative Nick Bain, seeks to establish various levels of care as it pertains to pregnant women that are incarcerated.

The “Dignity for Incarcerated Women” movement has been widespread, and several southern states like South Carolina, Florida, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas have accepted the charge to pass legislation centered on the basis of restoring compassion and dignity to their prison systems. With the Mississippi prison system currently being under the microscope of the Department of Justice, passing this legislation would be a step in a positive direction.

A few key functions of this piece of legislation:

  • 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
  • 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.

Empower Mississippi supports this legislation.

It has been referred to Judiciary B. You can read the bill here.