Danbury Switches Genders

Post Date: August 6, 2013

For federal prisoners and their loved ones, we think it’s important to mention a big change happening in the federal prison system:  the female FCI Danbury prison will be switching genders and housing men.

Federal prison expert and FAMM friend Todd Bussert has the scoop at his excellent blog on Bureau of Prison (BOP) issues:

As discussed here, the BOP recently announced its intention to re-mission FCI Danbury from a women’s facility to a men’s low-security institution. The Hartford Courant reports that on Friday a group of senators from Connecticut (Blumenthal and Murphy), New York (Schumer and Gillibrand), Massachusetts (Warren and Markey), Vermont (Leahy and Sanders), New Hampshire (Shaheen), Maine (King) and Pennsylvania (Casey) wrote the Bureau of Prisons in an effort to prevent the move. According to the Courant, the senators contend that “the federal Corrections Institute at Danbury … is located along a densely populated urban corridor and a significant number of the inmates are from the surrounding states. Danbury is only 60 miles from Hartford, 70 miles from New York City, and 150 miles from Boston. It is easily accessible by public transportation, train, and car.” They add:

“The transfer would dramatically disrupt the lives of these female inmates, many of whom are from the Northeast […] and place them out of reach of their families and loved ones.[…] We understand that the small percentage of women inmates in the federal system means that many women will be incarcerated very far from home. Given BOP’s commitment to maintaining family contact, the goal should be to have as many inmates as close as possible to their home[.]”

Through its spokesman, the Bureau of Prisons responded that it has “an immediate need for low-security male bed space,” and that the closet federal prison for female low-security prisoners is in West Virginia (i.e., the Hazelton (WV) Secure Female Facility (SFF)).

The switch could mean that the women at Danbury get moved even further from their homes, children, and families — which could mean fewer visits and a tougher time heading back home and reentering their communities at the end of their sentences.

This is just one more example of the DOJ’s prison overcrowding crisis, which can be blamed largely on mandatory minimum sentences.  There is no more room at the inn, folks!  It’s time to do something about it, which is why Senators Paul and Leahy are having a hearing on mandatory minimum sentences in September. We need to stop sending so many people to prison for so, so long. Judges need flexibility in sentencing so that they can save those scarce prison resources for the most dangerous and violent offenders.

You can tell your U.S. Senators to support sentencing reform through our Action August campaign. Mandatory minimum sentencing reform is a meaningful solution to prison overcrowding at the BOP. Don’t know how to have a meeting with your U.S. Senators? Tune in to FAMM’s Facebook page this Friday, August 9, at 12:00 noon EST to ask questions and get answers!

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