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Bill requiring inmates to be checked for pregnancy advances

May 4, 2018 GMT

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut lawmakers on Thursday passed legislation requiring the Department of Correction to determine whether female inmates are pregnant before they’re incarcerated.

The bill stems from the birth of an infant inside a prison cell in February at York Correctional Institution, the state’s only women’s prison.

The legislation, which cleared the House of Representatives unanimously, also ensures pregnant inmates get proper pre-natal and post-partum treatment and services. Among other things, at least one health care provider at York must have training in pregnancy and childbirth.

“Women in the criminal justice system face unique challenges and barriers to success,” said Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who proposed much of the bill. “The legislation approved in the House today is about taking a compassionate yet practical approach to improving the way our institutions treat incarcerated women.”

The bill already cleared the Senate and now awaits Malloy’s signature.

Under the legislation, the shackling of pregnant inmates during labor would be prohibited and non-medical staff of the opposite gender would be barred from viewing or interfering with female prisoners showering, toileting, undressing or performing other personal activities. The bill also requires the DOC to provide female inmates with no-cost feminine hygiene products and to create child-friendly visitation policies.

Some of the ideas came from previously incarcerated women, who testified before the General Assembly.

Standards also were established in the legislation for transgender inmates, a move that was lauded by the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut. ACLU called the legislation among the strongest in the nation. For example, the bill gives transgender inmates the right to be searched by a correctional staff member of the same gender identity, under most circumstances.

“All inmates deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and this bill will ensure that,” said Rep. Jeff Currey, D-East Hartford.