Local elected officials and civil rights groups urged legislators at a committee hearing today to implement more programs for women and girls in Texas prisons and jails.
A lack of gender-specific programs for incarcerated women leads to higher recidivism rates, said Diana Claitor, Texas Jail Project director. Women with learning disabilities and mental health problems, she said, are especially at risk. "Provide treatment and education to female inmates, using models from other jails and prisons, and our Texas facilities will be able to help reduce costs to counties and communities ... and give the children of the incarcerated a fighting chance," Claitor said.
Among those calling on the House Corrections Committee to establish more gender-specific programs was state Rep. Marisa Marquez, D-El Paso. Last year, she sponsored HB3653 and HB3654, which establish health care standards for women in prison and prevent the use of restraints during labor and delivery.
"In the long run, programs like this save taxpayers money," said Terri Burke, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. "These efforts encourage family stability and discourage reoffending."