letters | prisoners beset by challenges in the system

Whisking female prisoners away is punishment anew

I am writing to support the Sept. 3 op-ed by Nancy Gertner and Judith Resnick, which stated their concerns about converting the women’s federal prison in Danbury, Conn., and to underscore why that is such a counterproductive corrections policy (“Keep female prisoners close to family”).

Historically, closing women’s prisons to make more space for men, and isolating women in rural prisons that are virtually unreachable by public transportation, are two of the most enduring and negative trends affecting women offenders. Now that the nation is rethinking its mass incarceration policies in favor of those that are more cost-effective, it is also time to focus on women’s needs rather than simply displacing them.


Many researchers and administrators now recognize the necessity of effective treatment and community intervention to address women’s circumstances. Sending women to Connecticut makes it burdensome for them to maintain contact with children and establish connections with reentry resources; moving them to Alabama makes it virtually impossible.

Erika Kates


The writer is a senior research scientist at Wellesley Centers for Women and founder of the Massachusetts Women’s Justice Network.

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