D.C. Women in Prison: Continuing Problems and Recommendations for Change

Over 20 years ago, in litigation challenging conditions for women in District of Columbia prisons, a federal district court found widespread violations of the women’s rights, citing unsanitary and otherwise substandard living conditions, inadequate medical care, and educational, recreational, and religious   opportunities that were inferior compared with those available to men housed in the same facilities. The court also found evidence  of  “a level of sexual harassment which is so malicious that it violates contemporary standards of decency,” with reports of rape, “general acceptance of sexual relationships between staff and inmates,” unconsented sexual touching, and degrading remarks. There have been changes –in many cases for the better –since the court made these findings in 1994.  But D.C. women who are incarcerated continue to encounter serious challenges, both during their imprisonment and  when they return to the community.  This report addresses conditions these women currently face and discusses some of the more significant problems they experience during incarceration.  The report focuses primarily on the Correctional Treatment Facility (CTF), a jail facility located in the District that is operated  by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), and the Hazelton Secure Female Facility (SFF), a federal prison in West Virginia where the largest numberof D.C. women convicted of felonies are housed.