Prison Through the Lens of Gender
Do women in prison receive adequate medical and gynecological care?
Do pregnant women in prison get proper nutrition in their diets?
What could improve interactions between correction officers and incarcerated women?
To answer these and many other questions, the CA’s Women in Prison Project (WIPP) has recently intensified its monitoring of the seven New York prisons that house women. As part of its effort to be more rigorous in its visiting work, the Project has hired a researcher to help hone its visiting methodology and create new survey tools (building on the tools previously developed by the Prison Visiting Project to monitor men’s facilities) that recognize incarcerated women’s needs and circumstances.
Before using the survey tools, WIPP conducted two focus groups with formerly incarcer- ated women to ensure that the survey’s questions were comprehensive, clear, and sensitive to women’s specific experiences. WIPP has already used these new survey tools during recent visits to Bedford Hills and Albion Correctional Facilities (the former, New York’s only maximum security prison for women, located in Westchester, and the latter, a medium security facility near Rochester), and also plans to use them during upcoming visits to Taconic, Bay- view and Beacon Correctional Facilities.
After each visit, the Project sends a de- tailed letter to the facility superintendent explaining its findings, observations and recommendations for change. The Project then creates a report which is posted on the CA website and distributed to key legislators, advocates, and members of the Coalition for Women Prisoners, which the Project coordinates.
At the end of its visiting cycle, WIPP plans to use the information it has gathered to publish a State of the Women’s Prisons report, which will analyze conditions in women’s prisons across the state and make recommendations for system- wide improvements. The Project will also continue to build its ongoing advocacy for improved conditions of confinement at all the prisons it visits.
Like the Project’s prison monitoring and advocacy efforts, the State of the Women’s Prisons report will be the first of its kind in the state and the country, making WIPP an even stronger voice for incarcerated women and their families.
The United States has 5% of the world’s women, and 33% of its incarcerated women. Women’s imprisonment rose 700% nationally between 1980 and 2014, and women of color are disproportionately arrested and incarcerated. In response to this dramatic increase, the National Institute of Corrections and the National Resource Center on Justice-Involved Women worked to develop effective practices for women’s prisons through a Gender Informed Practice Assessment tool, known as GIPA.Read More
N.C. Prisons End Shackling of Women During Childbirth, A ‘Barbaric’ Practice 32 Other States Still Allow
“People’s human rights do not end when they enter the walls of a prison.” Ending a practice described by medical experts as “barbaric,” the director of North Carolina’s state prisons said Wednesday that women who give birth while they are incarcerated will no longer be restrained or shackled during labor. Women’s rights advocates applauded the [...]Read More
Under unique statutory authority granted to the CA in 1846, WIPP monitors conditions in women’s prisons in New York, a role played by no other group in the country. WIPP coordinates the Coalition for Women Prisoners, a statewide alliance of more than 1,800 people, and carries out advocacy campaigns to reform harmful criminal justice policies. [...]Read More
Watch the Correctional Association’s video about the barbaric – and illegal – shackling of incarcerated women during childbirth. In 2009 New York enacted a statute restricting the use of shackles on women during childbirth. The law bans outright the use of restraints on women throughout labor, delivery and recovery “after giving birth,” which is meant [...]Read More