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Virginia Dignity Law

BREAKING: Virginia Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act Signed Into Law 

The Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act (HB 1648) helps restore dignity to incarcerated women across the state

Richmond, VA (April 23rd) – Today, top criminal justice reformers at #cut50, a program of Dream Corps, and the American Conservative Union celebrate the passage of the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act (HB 1648) which was signed into law on March 31st, by the Virginia Governor.  The bill provides incarcerated parents and primary caregivers with certain protections that help preserve their familial bonds while in state correctional facilities.

Authored by Virginia Delegate Kay Kory (D-38) and co-sponsored by Delegates Nick Frietas  (R-30) & John McGuire (R-56), the bill set specific provisions for incarcerated women, including:

  • Prohibiting the shackling of pregnant women; 
  • Prohibiting correctional officers from conducting pat down searches of incarcerated women unless they are of the same gender; 
  • Allowing minor children visitation to see their parents at least twice a week; and 
  • Developing and providing education for pregnant women covering a range of pregnancy related topics.  

Passing the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act was a bipartisan effort, with Delegates Kory (D), Frietas (R), and McGuire (R) working together as well as the American Conservative Union, #cut50 and other criminal justice groups, lending their support. 

I am very proud to have worked with both ACUF & #cut50 to create and pass legislation, HB1648, which ensures that incarcerated pregnant and postpartum women receive the very best medical care, as well as requiring a new visitation policy of frequent visits for young children and their mothers.

It is time for Virginia to step up and protect incarcerated women and their children.  80% of all incarcerated women are mothers.  Our corrections system must accommodate their needs and offer opportunities to strengthen family bonds.  

I see HB1648 as the beginning of major criminal justice reform in Virginia.  I look forward to partnering with #cut50 and ACUF on future criminal justice system reform legislation.  The passage of HB83 (menstrual products provided at no cost to incarcerated women) in the last session, and now HB1648 in the 2020 session signal major criminal justice reform coming to our Commonwealth.

Delegate Kaye Kory (D-38)

We’re happy to see both parties coming together on this important issue to respect the dignity of incarcerated women. This isn’t a left or right issue, it’s a human rights issue and the legislators of Virginia saw it as such.

Kaitlin Owens, Policy Analyst at the American Conservative Union

We’re thrilled the Virginia Governor signed this piece of critical bipartisan legislation. Women who are currently incarcerated and their families deserve to be treated with dignity and given time to maintain their bonds. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners to enact further criminal justice reforms in Virginia.

Olivia McLarnan, #cut50 Policy Associate

This legislation is a pro life, pro woman, pro human rights bill that is common sense. I am proud to have chief co-patroned this bipartisan legislation with ACU & #cut50. Together we can get a lot more accomplished than when we try apart.

John McGuire (R-56)

Together, the American Conservative Union and #cut50’s Dignity Campaign is an effort spearheaded by formerly incarcerated women who have lived in prisons and know the conditions first hand. The campaign aims to enact legislation that will improve state correctional facility standards for women — the fastest growing population in U.S. prisons. To date, the Dignity Campaign has successfully changed policies in 17 states, impacting a total of over 30,000 incarcerated women.

About #cut50: #cut50,­ a program of Dream Corps­, is a national bipartisan effort to reduce the number of people in our prisons and jails while making our communities safer. Our campaigns are led by people who have been directly impacted by the justice system and want to create change.

If you’d like to learn more information on #cut50’s work for the Virginia Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act and the Dignity Campaign can be found here.

About the American Conservative Union: The mission at the American Conservative Union Foundation is to educate Americans about conservative solutions to the country’s most pressing problems. ACUF’s Center for Criminal Justice Reform promotes policies that improve public safety, reduce government cost, and protect human dignity. Criminal Justice Reform is a high priority for ACUF, and it has been a featured topic at each ACUF Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) for over a decade. If you’d like to learn more about the work  ACUFs does regarding Dignity of Incarcerated Women can be found here.


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