SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Juliana Stratton, D-Chicago, is fighting for fairness for incarcerated women by passing legislation requiring Illinois prisons to implement policies and practices geared towards rehabilitating female inmates.
“Women in our criminal justice system have often experienced high rates of physical and sexual abuse,” Stratton said. “Right now, the correctional system ignores these realities to the detriment of women within the system. We need to focus on rehabilitation for all inmates, and especially for women who are often mothers and face a host of additional difficulties when incarcerated.”
Stratton passed the Women’s Correctional Service Act, House Bill 3904, which would form a women’s division within the Illinois Department of Corrections. The department would implement policies for female inmates related to day-to-day operations, health care, case management and successfully transitioning back to their families and communities in an effort to improve outcomes and reduce recidivism. An extremely high number of women in prison have faced past traumas – according to the Women’s Justice Initiative, 98 percent of the women prisoners in the Illinois Department of Corrections have experienced physical abuse and 75 percent have experienced sexual abuse.
“Our criminal justice system does not adequately address the issues of why many women are there to start,” Stratton continued. “Women have unique needs and if we truly want to help them leave our system in a better place, we must radically change women's corrections."
The Women’s Correctional Service Act now heads to the governor for approval.