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Like four out of five women incarcerated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Maggie Luna was a mother when she went to prison. Among other reforms, the bills would expand jail diversion programs for primary caretakers, force the prison system to gather and publish data on parents behind bars, and strengthen rules related to strip searches and the shackling of pregnant inmates. One provision would ensure incarcerated women always have access to tampons and menstrual p behind bars, which has been a common complaint.
Women who testified during a House Corrections Committee hearing last week described dehumanizing treatment behind bars. Lawmakers on the panel recoiled when one woman recalled snickering guards ordering her to remove a tampon during a strip search. Also among the bills is a proposal by Houston Democratic state Representative Senfronia Thompson that directs judges to consider community supervision or deferred adjudication before sentencing primary caretakers to prison time. Many women testified during the hearing that prison had ripped them away from young children.
She pointed out that 64 percent of women in Texas prisons are there for nonviolent offenses. Luna told lawmakers that she struggled to find stability after leaving prison.
But we have to stop this for other people behind me. This cycle has to stop.
Michael Barajas is a staff writer covering civil rights for the Observer. You can reach him on Twitter or at [ protected]. Most Recent in Education: 1 Reation Letter.
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Bills addressing the basic needs of incarcerated women bolster the larger call for reform in the state prison system this session. Michael Barajas. Michael Barajas Women who testified during a House Corrections Committee hearing last week described dehumanizing treatment behind bars. Do you think free access to journalism like this is important? The Texas Observer is known for its fiercely independent, uncompromising work—which we are pleased to provide to the public at no charge in this space. That means we rely on the generosity of our readers who believe that this work is important.
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Texas Prison Reformers Demand Dignity for Incarcerated Women