Bill Would Reform Incarcerated Women's Rights in NJ

Apr 23, 2018

Former NJ Gov. Jim McGreevey and Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez
Credit Ang Santos / WBGO

A New Jersey Assemblywoman is introducing legislation to help bridge the gap between incarcerated parents and their children.  WBGO’s Ang Santos reports…

Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez says her bill specifically targets incarcerated women.  She says often times they struggled with abuse and financial instability before their convictions.

“So not only have they been abused in the external environment, but when they come into their incarceration environment, they are being punished again because of all of the events that are taking place within our correctional systems right now,” said Lopez.  “Not having the ability to visit with their children.  We are looking to increase visitation rights with the parents.  We are looking to provide extended rights for parents while they are incarcerated.  We are looking to create more programs and services.”

Maria Szivos was incarcerated several years ago and now works for a substance abuse treatment organization for women.  She says the bill is a good first step towards reforming the state’s criminal justice system

“It will help individuals feel some form of dignity.  Where they feel like they don’t have to make these harsh choices.  Whether to be able to call home to their children or try to find a way for a couple of days to provide for their basic hygiene products.”

Assemblywoman Lopez is exploring better ways to aid pregnant women in prison.