U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy’s office confirms today that the partial federal shutdown has at least temporarily blocked the transfer of 1,120 low security female inmates from the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury.
The transfer has been fought by a coalition of Northeast senators who say that moving the women away from their families could make it tougher to rehabilitate them. Studies show that preserving contact with family members while incarcerated helps keep inmates from ending up back in prison.
The Bureau of Prisons says it is converting Danbury into an all-male facility for low-security inmates. Females, who make up about 7 percent of the overall prison population, are being sent to a new correctional institution in Alabama as well as other locations around the country. A smaller minimum security population of female inmates will remain at Danbury.
“It says something about how strong the Bureau of Prisons feels about this move that they are willing to go forward with it even in the face of a list of criticisms from some pretty influential senators,” Murphy said.
“You have 20 prisons all across the country. How can you justify not having one of them in the most densely populated region,” Murphy added, pointing that there will not be a low security female prison in the Northeast if the transfer goes through.
Both Murphy and U.S. Sen Richard Blumenthal say they will push for an oversight hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sen. Patrick Leahy, the committee’s chairman, is part of the group demanding a halt to the transfers.