New Attorney General Grilled by Connecticut Senator Over BOP’s Failure to Build New Prison for Women as Promised
Date:  05-11-2015

BOP decision to close only federal prison for women in Northeast caused ire among legislators and judges
On July 5, 3015 Reentry Central broke the news nationally that in almost a secretive decision the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) was closing the only female federal correctional institution in the Northeast and sending the majority of women incarcerated there to a newly built prison 1,100 miles away in Alabama. The proposed move came shortly after BOP Director Charles E. Samuels, Jr. announced in a memo on June 19, 2013 that “there is no substitute for seeing your children, looking them in the eye, and letting them know you care about them.” The Alabama prison was built without a nearby airport or train station making it difficult for family members to visit, and it is also outside of the 500 mile range from home that the BOP states it tries to keep people in prison within. The closing of the federal facility in Danbury drew heavy criticism from senators from the Northeast region of the country, as well as from judges and advocates for women and criminal justice reform. The BOP finally agreed to build a new FCI for women who citizens from the Northeast. The expected date for completion of the new prison came and went, angering senators from the region.

The CT Mirror reported that on May 7 that Senator Christopher Murphy of Connecticut, addressing newly appointed US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, once again brought up the subject of when the opening of the new prison for women could be expected.

The Mirror quoted Murphy as saying, “The initial schedule was for it to be completed this month. In the interim, all of these women are being spread out among jails in the Northeast, jails that are not equipped to handle things that these women need, especially drug counseling. According to the Mirror, Lynch suggested that the groundbreaking for the new prison is expected sometime this summer.

But Andrea James, prison reform activist and founder of Families for Justice as Healing, suggested that we should be looking to keep women out of prison, not building more prisons. James argues that the FCI will be considered a low-security prison and it makes better sense that the women who would be housed there could safely be released back into the community.

( For more information on the problems associated with closing FCI Danbury to women, see Reentry Central 7-5-13: Females at Danbury, CT Federal Women’s Prison Told to Pack Up to Make Way for Men, 8-5-13: Senators Demand Answers Regarding Federal Bureau of Prison’s Decision to Transfer Women from Danbury, CT Prison, 8-15-13: Federal Bureau of Prisons Suspends Transfer of Female Inmates from Connecticut to Alabama, 8-22-13: Reentry Central Special Report: Women in Danbury Federal Facilities Embrace BOP’s Efforts to Keep Them Closer to Home, 8-27-13: Judge Brenda Murray Urges Those Who Will Be Affected by Closing of Danbury FCI to Contact Their Senators, 10-4-13: (Updated 10-5-13) Rumors Continue to Swirl Regarding Imminent Transfer of Women Prisoners at Danbury Federal Correctional Institution, 10-16-13: Activists Unite Against Transfer of Female Federal Prisoners from Danbury FCI, 11-05-13: Update: Federal Bureau of Prisons Will Keep Female Prisoners from Northeast at FCI-Danbury, 9-3-14: New Report Exposes Extensive Delays in Danbury Women’s Prison Renovations)