Amid Outcry, Women Will Stay at Danbury's Federal Prison
The Danbury facility also includes a minimum-security prison camp that holds 250 inmates.
Alan Nevas, a retired Connecticut federal judge who now has a private practice as an arbitrator and mediator, said he had mixed feelings on the conversion.
"The argument has been made children won't be able to visit, that's a good argument," Nevas said. "I'm sympathetic to the concerns being expressed."
However, he said, the same concern exists over children visiting their fathers. Nevas said the Board of Prisons has a difficult job finding space for everyone. "There are a lot of issues here that in fairness the Board of Prisons has considered," he said.
According to the senators' press release, the entire transfer and construction process will take about 18 months to complete.
"BOP plans to move the female U.S. citizen inmates currently housed at the FCI to various locations around the country near their residences after their release. BOP will also move some of the current inmates with upcoming release dates to Residential Reentry Centers, or halfway houses, and others will be moved to the satellite camp," the press release said. "The agency has assured the senators that it is making every effort to keep the U.S. citizen inmates in the Northeast and maintain the same level of programming available by the end of the process. The senators look forward to continuing to work with BOP as the plan is implemented to ensure that all of BOP's goals are met."
It continued, "The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold an oversight hearing of the Bureau of Prisons Wednesday, during which Director Charles Samuels will testify. This hearing prompted BOP to make the announcement about Danbury on Friday. The Judiciary Committee and its members, including Chairman Leahy and Blumenthal, will continue to push for the consideration of families as it relates to the housing of inmates."
Megan Quattlebaum, the Visiting Lecturer in Law, at Yale Law School, said the school is pleased with the decision.
"We are pleased that women prisoners from the Northeast will continue to have some ability to be incarcerated as close as possible to their homes and families. And we hope that the BOP will undertake a review of its entire inmate population to ensure that all federal prisoners, men and women, are housed in locations where they will have the greatest possible opportunity to receive visits," Quattlebaum said. "The BOP has the ability to significantly reduce its own inmate population, which will free up space within federal prison facilities to permit those who remain incarcerated to be moved closer to home and family. Tools at the BOP's disposal include releasing inmates who have 12 months or less left on their sentences to community confinement under the Second Chance Act."