Chief judges in the region, including Connecticut’s Chief Judge Janet Hall, say they oppose plans to convert a federal prison in Danbury into a men’s facility. The facility is the only federal prison in the northeast for women.
The Connecticut Law Tribune reported that about a dozen chief judges have signed a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. The letter said if the Danbury prison closes, most of the incarcerated women will be transferred to Alabama, which would make it very difficult for families throughout the northeast to visit inmates.
That, they say, would damage prisoners and their children. The Danbury facility houses about 1,200 women inmates. More than half have children under age 21.
The letter includes the following statement:
"FCI Danbury currently houses approximately 1200 female inmates, most of whom were sentenced by judges from our courts. By virtue of its close proximity to New York, Boston, Hartford, Providence, Newark, and Springfield, and the availability of plentiful public transportation throughout the region, Danbury is readily accessible to the family and friends of those from our districts who are incarcerated there.
"As judges responsible for sentencing and supervising criminal defendants, we well know that this accessibility has important ramifications for these inmates -- during their incarceration and afterwards. First, research indicates that offenders who have regular visitation are less likely to have disciplinary problems during incarceration. They are also less likely to recidivate...
"Second, a substantial majority of women in federal prison have young children. According to information recently provided by BOP, 59 percent of inmates at FCI Danbury have a child under the age of 21. Ensuring that inmates can stay connected to their families is important for all prisoners, which is why we frequently recommend that the defendants we sentence be housed in facilities as close to the Northeast as possible."