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Protestors Blast Transfer Of Female Inmates
by Thomas MacMillan | Oct 15, 2013 11:59 am
Posted to: Legal Writes
When Beatrice Codianni went to Danbury federal prison for racketeering, she was lucky to have her family nearby. She joined protestors Tuesday morning on the steps of New Haven’s federal courthouse to seek to afford other women the same luck.
Codianni (at right in photo with fellow protestor Barbara Fair) was one of a half-dozen speakers who railed Tuesday against the imminent conversion of the Danbury federal women’s prison to the Danbury federal men’s prison. She spoke as part of a protest rally on the steps of the federal courthouse on Church Street.
Protestors object to the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ plan—already underway—to move the women imprisoned in Danbury to other prisons around the country, in order to house men at the facility instead. Protestors said the move would be “inhumane” since it would make it harder for families to visit prisoners, which would increase the rates of recidivism.
The move is necessary, the bureau has said, because of overcrowding in men’s prisons. A new women’s facility has opened in Alabama, one possible destination for the inmates now at Danbury.
A group of 11 U.S. senators, including Connectictut’s two, had objected to the conversion because it would separate inmates from their families, and because of the expense of the conversion. In response, the bureau postponed the switchover.
The CT Mirror reported Oct. 4 that Danbury would begin to move prisoners out on Oct. 7. Activists at the rally said an inmate informed them that 30 inmates have already been moved.
U.S. Sen. Dick Blumenthal said Tuesday that he has been assured that no inmates have been moved during the ongoing government shutdown. He said he is seeking a meeting with the U.S. attorney general to register his continued strong opposition to the Danbury conversion.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said the Bureau of Prisons is being “pretty hardheaded” about the move and that it’s unlikely to change course.
The Bureau of Prisons’ press office, shut down due to the federal government shutdown, could not be reached for comment.
The prison had 1,337 inmates as of the end of July: 1,120 in a low-security facility and 217 at the minimum security “camp,” according to a Sept 27 letter from Charles Samuels, director of the Bureau of Prisons, to Murphy. The letter states that the top five states Danbury inmates come from are New York, Texas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, DC, and California. Thirteen of Danbury’s prisoners are from Connecticut, the letter states. Read it here.
“I spent 15 years in Danbury,” Codianni announced through a bullhorn Tuesday morning. Most people in the prison are non-violent offenders she said. Codianni was imprisoned in Danbury from 1994 to 2008, for racketeering.
“These women are being punished,” Codianni said. “They’re already hurting. Why hurt them further” by separating them from their families? “Mothers Day at federal prison is the saddest thing you’ll ever see.”
Codianni, who’s from New Haven, said she was lucky to be imprisoned so near her family when she served her time. “I had a prison in my backyard.” She said family visits were key for her mental health and success after release. “They made it easier when I got out.”
Tamara Petro, of Branford, announced that her sister is currently imprisoned in Danbury for mortgage fraud. She held up pictures of the children of inmates, including her sister’s two young sons. She said two million children currently have at least one incarcerated parent. It’s essential that kids can visit their parents, both for the parents’ successful re-entry and the kids success at staying out of prison themselves.
“She was a very involved mom,” Petro said of her sister. “A typical suburban housewife.” Petro said she takes care of her sister’s kids five days a week, and visits her sister on the weekend.
In between speakers, protest organizer Gregory Williams (at right in photo) led chants: “Prisoners’ rights are under attack! Stand up, fight back!”
“These transfers should be stopped and the policy halted because they threaten to create more criminals and more crime,” Blumenthal said. “Separating moms from their kids leads to isolation and a lack of parental guidance and role models and of course demoralizes the moms.”
“The Bureau of Prisons very clearly knows where senators from the Northeast stand on this proposal,” said Sen. Murphy. “We believe it’s very bad policy to have no women’s prison in the northeast.”
The United States has 20 female federal prisons, said Murphy. “It defies common sense that at least one of them wouldn’t be in the northeast, the most populated part of the country.”
Murphy said he the ongoing crisis over the federal budget has taken away any leverage the senators might have to force the bureau to change its plans. The senators could attach a rider to a Department of Justice appropriations bill that would require the Danbury prison to stay female. “But because we’re passing continuing resolutions [instead of creating a new budget], there’s no opportunity to draft language.”
Murphy said the Department of Justice promised to meet with him and Blumenthal before inmates are transferred. “I’m fearful that they are going to come to that meeting and simply explain a decision they’ve already made. We’ll do our best to change their mind.”
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Does anyone remember the old saying, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time” Cry me a river.
Regardless of how anyone may feel about someone committing a crime… at the end of the day they are living breathing human beings. This isn’t about what their sentences are, or if they are paying their debt to society. They are. The issue is moving women to part of the country that separates them from their families. There ought to be a minimum security prison in the Northeast.
If we are going to be in the business of keeping prisons stocked, then we ought to at least work toward keeping families closer. Few people go to prison for life. Most will get out and resume their lives with family and community. Keeping families connected isn’t special treatment. It is Humane and the right thing to do.
Not everyone is as lacking in compassion as heightster70.
Prison is not just about punishment; it is also supposed to be about rehabilitation.
Contact with family and friends enables people to have hope and envision a future. Family and friends need ongoing contact with a loved one and have the same need for hope and a vision of the future.
Moving people around like cords of wood is inhumane, short sighted and damaging.
What the hell is happening in the US?
Do we have so little regard for our fellow human beings that no one cares about anything but the bottom line???
I am inclined to agree with not moving these women, mainly because a great percent of them probably have children. As someone else commented.. They are doing their time. But should the children be made to suffer along with the inmate? Looking at another comment here, it is sad that some people can only see one side of things and care not for the broader picture.
I get that these women may have families, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that they made the choice to commit the crimes they did. Being separated from their families is part of the price they have to pay. Also, any organization featuring Barbara Fair immediately loses credibility with me.
I was at this demo, an important one. Unfortunately there was more press there than citizens.
Alabama is a jim crow state and financially much poorer that CT. Sending our women there including some innocent ones is akin to torture.
1337 inmates at Danbury from NY, TX, VA, PA, DC and CA, and 13 from CT. There seems to be no compassion for the 1324 ‘non-CT’ women who so are away from their children and families. Shouldn’t we be concerned about them as well. And I am not without compassion for the CT omen, but I have spent some time in prison for a crime that I DID commit. I agree with the notion that once you commit and are convicted, you pretty much lose a lot a the rights, privileges and ‘nice-ities’ of freedom. Prison is meant to be uncomfortable and hopefully a deterrent from the returning to the behavior that got you there in the first place. People in jail for crimes they committed must take personal responsibility for their actions and the consequences ... do the crime, do the time, make no excuse for your behavior, don’t blame others, change your attitude and change your life. It worked for me.
Hill South Resident makes a great point. If less than 1% of the inmates currently serving time at the Danbury prison are from CT where is the justice for the 99+% of inmates who are currently separated from THEIR families? I hate to say it because I’ve met Barbara Fair and believe her heart is in the right place, but I agree with vc man too - any “cause” that Barbara Fair is fighting for is immediately suspect to me. She tends to lead with her heart and ignore blatant facts, like these statistics, in her quest for “justice.”
Understand the facts before you shoot something down. The closing of the prison impacts more than the 13 women who live in Ct. It is the sole prison that houses women in the entire Northeast which includes Mass New York, New Hampshire,Maine etc. There are 25 prisons in the Northeast for housing men. The need for moving them is not to keep any of the other women close to home. It is out of the necessity to fill a prison which costs taxpayers $218 and now needs occupants to fill it. Alabama prisons are overcrowded over 50% why not open the prison to people incarcerated in Alabama? American Justice has never cared about families and it is far from just. If it were many corporation heads and members of the legislative body that creates criminals would be serving time. I suggest VC try and focus on the messsage and less on ONE of its messengers.
Random, I tried posting a detailed, factual rebuttal, but as usual the NHI Gestapo, aka the moderator, censored me without my violating their own comment policy. Google Stacey Petro of Branford and tell me if my facts are wrong. 3 years of criminal activity does not get you my sympathy. Have fun in Alabama.
I support NHI’s policy. The fact they don’t support cyber bullying is a good thing. I’m not interested in why Ms Petro is incarcerated. My place is not to sit in judgment and her criminal behavior had no place in our protest. I leave that to people like you who obviously thrive on it.