Status: The Dignity Act (S. 1524) was introduced on July 11, 2017, in the U.S. Senate. THE BILL IS NOT A LAW. To become a law, the bill must be approved by the Judiciary committees, passed by both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, and signed into law by the President. Each year, many bills are introduced, but few become law. We do not know if or when this bill will become law.
Summary: The Dignity Act (S. 1524) is a bill sponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-NY), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Kamala Harris (D-CA). The bill would, if passed, require the federal Bureau of Prisons to adopt policies and rules to improve the lives of parents and women in federal prisons.
If passed, the Dignity Act would:
- Require the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to place parents in prisons that are as close as possible to their children;
- Require BOP to expand visiting hours and days for prisoners who are primary caretakers of children, and to allow physical contact on these visits unless the prisoner is a danger to others;
- Prohibit BOP from putting women who are pregnant or in the first 8 weeks of postpartum recovery in segregated housing (i.e., solitary confinement, or “the SHU”);
- Prohibit BOP from using restraints or shackles on pregnant women at any time during their pregnancy;
- Require BOP to provide parenting classes to any prisoner who is a primary caretaker of their children;
- Require BOP to provide trauma-informed care to prisoners, and to train BOP staff in recognizing the need for that care;
- Require BOP to create a program that allows former federal prisoners to enter federal prisons and serve as mentors to people who are currently incarcerated;
- Prohibit BOP from charging prisoners for phone calls;
- Require BOP to set up video conference calling for prisoners, for free (but never as a substitute for in-person visits or calls);
- Require BOP to provide women prisoners with free menstrual care products (i.e., tampons, pads) and other basic hygiene products (e.g., toothpaste, shampoo, moisturizing soap, body lotion);
- Require BOP to give women prisoners access to a gynecologist;
- Strictly limit strip searches of prisoners by BOP staff who are of the opposite gender;
- Strictly limit when BOP staff may enter a restroom reserved for prisoners who are of the opposite gender;
- Require BOP to run a pilot (i.e., test) program that allows well-behaved prisoners who are not convicted of a crime of violence and who are primary caretakers to receive overnight visits from their children.
FAMM supports the Dignity Act.
Read more on prison reform:
FAMM Report: Using Time to Reduce Crime: Federal Prisoner Survey Shows Ways to Reduce Recidivism