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HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 37
INTRODUCED BY J. HURDLE, B. BARNHART, D. BERRY, J. BOHLINGER, R. BROWN, R. BUZZAS, C. CHRISTIAENS, J. COBB, B. EGGERS, T. FACEY, K. GILLAN, M. GUGGENHEIM,G. GUTSCHE, C. HIBBARD, C. JUNEAU, J. SHOCKLEY, L. SOFT, J. STOVALL, C. SQUIRES,
C. WILLIAMS, C. YOUNKIN
A JOINT RESOLUTION OF THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MONTANA REQUESTING THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL TO APPOINT AN APPROPRIATE INTERIM COMMITTEE TO STUDY WOMEN'S PRISON ISSUES.
WHEREAS, since May of 1998, Montana women inmates have been placed in out-of-state contract beds in Gallup, New Mexico, and in regional correctional facilities because of extraordinary growth in the population of the women's correctional system; and
WHEREAS, transferring women inmates to out-of-state prisons and to regional correctional facilities for incarceration focuses primarily on the housing needs and insufficiently on the rehabilitation or treatment needs of women inmates; and
WHEREAS, out-of-state and regional placement of women inmates compromises maintaining contact with their families, job training, and educational opportunities needed for the women to successfully make the transition back into society; and
WHEREAS, the classification of the women inmates, the calculation of their term of incarceration, and the ability of the women to prepare for and attend timely parole hearings needs to be reviewed in light of the great distances placed between the women inmates and the administration of the Montana Women's Prison and the Board of Pardons and Parole; and
WHEREAS, studying the smaller population of women inmates presents an opportunity to study a sample of the correctional system as a whole and shed further light on the administration of justice within the correctional system.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
That an appropriate interim committee be assigned to study women's prison issues, including but not limited to the following:
(1) reviewing the classification system and the extent to which it takes into consideration the unique characteristics of women inmates and whether nonviolent inmates are treated at the appropriate levels of incarceration;
(2) reviewing the length of stay, the calculation of parole eligibility and discharge dates, and the timeliness of parole hearings for women inmates at the Montana Women's Prison and in any out-of-state or regional contract placements;
(3) reviewing the lack of utilizing public and private training and educational programs for women offenders, such as AmeriCorps and Job Training Partnership Act of 1982 (JTPA) programs;
(4) exploring any evidence of abuse of legal and illegal drugs and use of legal drugs within the Montana Women's Prison and any out-of-state or regional placements and the availability and quality of chemical dependency and mental health treatment programs and aftercare; and
(5) examining the ability of the system to funnel women inmates into the least restrictive environment during their incarceration in order to be able to access training and education to enhance their future ability to obtain and maintain employment, to learn parenting skills, be reunited with their families, and become productive members of society, and to prevent recidivism.
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