Bill Summary for H 608 (2021-2022)

Summary date: 

Apr 20 2021

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2021
House Bill 608 (Public) Filed Tuesday, April 20, 2021
AN ACT TO PROMOTE THE DIGNITY OF WOMEN WHO ARE INCARCERATED.
Intro. by K. Baker, Clemmons, White, K. Hall.

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Bill summary

Enacts new Article 83A, Dignity for Women Who are Incarcerated Act, to GS Chapter 15A. Sets forth 11 defined terms. 

Prohibits Department of Public Safety (DPS) and correctional facility employees from using leg restraints, wrist restraints, restraints connected to other incarcerated persons, or waist shackles on pregnant female incarcerated persons during the second and third trimester of pregnancy, during labor and delivery, and during the six-week postpartum recovery period. Defines correctional facility employee to include any person who is employed by a State or local government agency or unit who works at or in a correctional facility, defined to mean any unit of the State prison system, a local confinement facility, a juvenile detention facility, or other entity under the authority of any State or local law enforcement agency that has the power to detain or restrain a person under State law. Restricts use of wrist handcuffs during the postpartum recovery period to being held in front of her body, if the employee determines important circumstance exists, as defined, and the employee makes a written report to the warden or administrator within five days containing justification for the use of the restraints. Specifies that the provisions do not prohibit the use of wrist restraints held in front of the female incarcerated person's body when in transport outside of the facility, except during labor or suspected labor. Clarifies that the provisions do not affect licensed health care professionals' use of medical restraints to ensure the medical safety of a pregnant female incarcerated person.

Prohibits correctional facility employees, other than a certified health care professional, from conducting body cavity searches of female incarcerated persons who are pregnant or in the postpartum recovery period unless the employee has probable cause to believe the person is concealing contraband that presents a threat of harm to the person, fetus, or another person, and the employee submits a written report to the warden or the administrator within five days containing the justification for the search.

Requires DPS and administrators of correctional facilities to ensure pregnant female incarcerated persons are provided sufficient food and dietary supplements, and access to food at appropriate times of day, as ordered by a physician, physician staff member, or a correctional facility nutritionist as specified. Establishes similar requirements for pregnant female incarcerated persons and female incarcerated persons in the postpartum recovery period by requiring access to the full range of meal options provided by the hospital to meet the person's nutritional needs. 

Prohibits DPS and administrators of correctional facilities from placing pregnant female incarcerated persons or female incarcerated persons in the six-week postpartum recovery period in restrictive housing, as defined, unless the employee makes a determination that an important circumstance exists, as defined, and submits a written report to the warden or administrator within five days containing the justification for the placement.

Prohibits DPS and correctional facility administrators from assigning female incarcerated persons who are pregnant or in the postpartum recovery period to any bed that is elevated more than 3 feet from the floor of the facility.

Requires prenatal, labor, and delivery care to be provided to pregnant female incarcerated persons at no cost to the incarcerated person.

Directs the warden or administrator of the correctional facility to compile a monthly summary of all written reports received as required under the Article and submit the summary to the Chief Deputy Secretary of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice. 

Requires DPS and correctional facility administrators to permit a newborn to remain with the female incarcerated person while the female incarcerated person is in the hospital following the delivery unless the medical provider has a reasonable belief that doing so poses a health or safety risk to the newborn. Requires DPS and administrators to make all necessary nutritional and hygiene products available during the postpartum recovery period, provided at no cost to the incarcerated person.

Mandates that DPS place female incarcerated persons in the custody of the State prison system who are mothers of minor children under the age of 1 within 250 miles of the child's permanent address to the extent practicable and after accounting for security and capacity. Requires DPS to authorize visitation of incarcerated persons with low- or minimum-security classifications who are parents to minor children under the age of 1 to allow for visitation by the minors at least twice a week by contact visit (except as specified).

Requires a limitation on inspections by male employees when a female incarcerated person is in a state of undress to the greatest extent practicable and consistent with safety and order, and availability of female employees. Requires male correctional employees to make a written report within five days containing the justification for inspection of a female incarcerated person while in a state of undress.

Requires DPS and administrators of correctional facilities to ensure availability of sufficient menstrual products for all female incarcerated persons as appropriate, at no cost to the incarcerated person.

Directs DPS to develop and provide all State prison system employees who have contact with pregnant female incarcerated persons training related to the physical and mental needs of pregnant female incarcerated persons and fetuses, as specified. Requires consultation with specified divisions of the Department of Health and Human Services. Also directs DPS to develop and provide educational programming for pregnant female incarcerated persons, as specified. Requires training and curricula to be made available to administrators of local confinement facilities.

Revises GS 143B-702 to make rules and regulations adopted by the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice subject to new Article 83A, GS Chapter 15A.

Enacts GS 153A-221.2 to subject local confinement facilities to the requirements of new Article 83A, GS Chapter 15A.

Effective October 1, 2021.

© 2021 School of Government The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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