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FCI Danbury Transition to Male Prison

By Christopher Zoukis

The Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Danbury is a low-security US federal prison in southwestern Connecticut. When it first opened in 1940, it was used to house male inmates. Since 1993, it has been housing only female prisoners, but that’s about to change. By December 2013, all the female inmates will be shipped to other federal prisons, such as a brand new one opening in Alabama. Male inmates will begin moving into FCI Danbury by January 2014. Not surprisingly, this transition presents some hardships for the female inmates currently in FCI Danbury.

Visitation Difficulties

The female inmates from the Northeast likely have family and friends who currently make the short trip to visit them. According to the CT Mirror, the move to other prisons, such as the one in Aliceville, Alabama, will inconvenience the families of the 1,126 women in the low-security federal prison. This is because it will take them about 1,000 miles away from Connecticut. FCI Danbury mostly houses women from New York, New Jersey, and surrounding areas, which is why the move to Alabama or other states is predicted to be such a hardship for most of the inmates and their family members.

Many of the inmates have children and spouses who regularly visit them at FCI Danbury, but after the transition, they might not be able to without taking a long car ride or even traveling by plane. Studies show that children of inmates are already more likely to do poorly academically and display criminal behavior themselves, and not having contact with their mothers simply worsens the issue.

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Marriage, Minorities and Drug Sentencing

By Jean Trounstine

An interesting article in the NYTimes last week made me think about marriage and incarceration and the inevitable link to how we send people to prison for years due to the so-called “war on drugs.”

Charles Blow, NYTimes columnist, quoted public health expert Ernest Drucker’s well-known 2011 book, A Plague of Prisons with the following stats:

■ “The risk of divorce is high among men going to prison, reaching 50 percent within a few years after incarceration.”

■ “The marriage rate for men incarcerated in prisons and jails is lower than the American average. For blacks and Hispanics, it is lower still.”

■ “Unmarried couples in which the father has been incarcerated are 37 percent less likely to be married one year after the child’s birth than similar couples in which the father has never been incarcerated.”

And guess why so many black and Hispanic men are in prison? You got it, the so-called “drug war.” Or as Blow calls it “the disastrous drug war,” or “a war on marijuana waged primarily against young black men, even though they use the drug at nearly the same rate as whites.” With television and the media, “reefer” has been glamorized to “reefer madness,” and indeed the sentencing of reefer is madness.

Image courtesy jeantrounstine.com

The drug war has brutalized so many with lengthy sentences. How can these sentences not affect marriage and families? Take for example Stephanie Nodd who according to her page on Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM)’s website served 21years of a 30-year sentence in a federal prison in Florida for a crack cocaine conspiracy she had been involved in for just one month. FAMM was able to influence the Sentencing Commission to make new guidelines and Stephanie was released.

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