Reentry Central Special Report: Women in Danbury Federal Facilities Embrace BOP’s Efforts to Keep Them Closer to Home
Date:  08-22-2013

Outcry over plan to transfer inmates 1,110 miles away from families spurs BOP to make some unexpected decisions
By Beatrice Codianni, Managing Editor, Reentry Central

August 22, 2013

Female inmates at the Danbury Federal Prison Camp (FPC) were abuzz after a recent announcement from camp administrators that many will be getting more halfway house time, or put on home confinement.

Sources told Reentry Central that the exodus of inmates from the FPC is because of the increase in the number of women at the Danbury Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) who have suddenly had their security level dropped to minimum security camp-status.

Many believe that this latest move by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is due to the recent brouhaha that erupted when the BOP decided to send over 1,000 women from the FCI to a federal prison in Alabama in order to convert the FCI back to a prison for men. The plan was not on the radar until Reentry Central broke the news nationally and a firestorm of protest swept the country. And it wasn't until eleven Senators wrote a letter to BOP Director Charles E. Samuels, Jr. questioning the wisdom of the move, on several levels, that the transfers were halted.

It is rumored that the FCI is seeking at least 100 of the approximate 220 beds available at the FPC for the newly designated camp-status inmates, and that these now minimum security status women need to leave the FCI quickly. With few exceptions, including an emergency situation, FCI and FPC inmates are not allowed to be housed together, or even speak to each other. Having camp-status inmates at the FCI is a serious concern for the BOP and a blessing for both FPC and FCI inmates.

Rethinking the situation, the BOP will be sending some FPC inmates who live outside of the Northeast region to facilities closer to their homes, thereby freeing up bed space for women from the FCI. Also, the BOP is making a great effort to get many more FPC inmates into halfway houses.

As can be expected, the mood at the FPC is that of hopeful anticipation. The same is true at the FCI where some women who were recently told that they were being sent 1,100 miles away from their families are now instead being sent just up the hill to the FPC. There has not been a final decision on whether the transfer to Alabama will take place. And, while some advocates of criminal justice reform view this latest move by the BOP as too little, too late, others credit the BOP for taking steps that will keep some women near their families. Meanwhile the women at the FPC and FCI are celebrating the good news that many of their sister-inmates are receiving, and are bright with hope that they, too, will soon be one step closer to freedom.