S.4795, Lanza / A.1610, Rozic: In relation to segregated confinement of pregnant inmates
Published on March 22nd, 2017
Memorandum of Support
This legislation would prohibit pregnant women and new mothers incarcerated throughout New York State from being placed in segregated confinement, also known as solitary confinement. The New York State Catholic Conference supports this legislation.
Both the U.S. Department of Justice and New York State recognize the problematic effects that excessive use of solitary confinement can have on an inmate. The U.S. Department of Justice in its Report and Recommendations Concerning the Use of Restrictive Housing states, “Women who are pregnant, who are postpartum, who recently had a miscarriage, or who recently had a terminated pregnancy should not be placed in restrictive housing.” The U.S. Department of Justice further suggests that even in exceptional circumstances when segregated confinement is used due to a severe and immediate threat to the safety of others, that those placed in segregated confinement should be reassessed daily and moved from such confinement as soon as it safe to do so. New York State, in settling the class action case of Peoples v. Fischer, also recognized that the criminal justice system needed to reduce the frequency, duration, and severity of the utilization of solitary confinement for everyone incarcerated in the prison system.
The Catholic Church has long advocated for reforms to the criminal justice system focusing on rehabilitation and protection of pregnant inmates and new mothers. As in all situations with pregnant women, in any setting, the health and safety of both the mother and their unborn or newborn child is paramount. The Catholic Conference hopes the prohibition proposed in this legislation will lead to better outcomes for the mothers involved who are already dealing with obstacles other inmates do not face.
Since this legislation would correct the dangerous and overused policy of placing pregnant women in solitary confinement, we urge you to approve this legislation.