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.
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.
Increased Recidivism Rates
Of course, the lack of visitation is likely to negatively affect the moods of the women, causing them to become depressed due to the sudden distance from their loved ones. But depression among inmates is just one of the worrisome consequences of FCI Danbury’s transition.
The CT Mirror reported that studies have shown that incarcerated mothers who do not have much contact with their children are prone to stress. Financial difficulties can also add to this stress, so requiring them and their families to come up with the money to travel to the new prison may worsen the problem. High stress among inmates can lead to higher rates of recidivism, which means the upcoming transition to another state may be a major setback for both inmates and taxpayers.
The transition is due to a sudden shortage of federal prisons for low-security male inmates. This is similar to the reason that the prison began housing only females about 20 years ago since there was a shortage of space for female inmates at the time. In fact, according to the News-Times, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) operates more than 100 prisons nationwide. Yet just seven of them house only female prisoners.
With Danbury closing to women, there are just six federal prisons left for female inmates. Even with the new prison in Alabama, federal prisons that house female inmates will still be at about 31 percent over capacity according to the New York Times. In addition, this new prison is located in a rural area, making the inmates feel more isolated than ever while being hours away from family.
The move to Alabama is a hardship for many female inmates, but what may be even worse is that not every prisoner will end up there. In fact, the decision will be made on a case-by-case basis, so the current inmates are not even sure where their next home will be. This can be difficult for anyone, especially inmates who have no control over where they will be living for years.
In addition, many prisons create relationships with the surrounding communities over the years. This is often done through community service projects, which involve inmates who may become attached to the community as a result. Due to the transition of FCI Danbury, inmates will have to start from scratch to build relationships with their new communities, wherever they might end up.
Published Aug 15, 2013 by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA | Last Updated by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA on Jun 12, 2022 at 11:03 pm