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Advocates Celebrate Passage of Bipartisan Pennsylvania Bill Humanizing Pregnant Incarcerated Women

December 14, 2023

Harrisburg, PA. - December 14, 2023 - Dream.Org commends the Pennsylvania Senate and House for their unanimous passage of House Bill 900 late yesterday. The bill (HB 900), known as the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act, writes the fair and human treatment of women into Pennsylvania law, prohibiting shackling and solitary confinement for pregnant individuals and providing trauma-informed training for corrections officers who interact with pregnant people, among other measures including:

  • Restricting the use of restraints and restrictive housing throughout a pregnancy, including labor;
  • Providing free feminine hygiene products;
  • Requiring trauma-informed training for correctional staff who come in contact with pregnant and postpartum people;
  • Allowing 3 days of post-delivery bonding between newborns and their birthing parents.

The bill, sponsored by State Reps. Morgan Cephas (D-Philadelphia), Mike Jones (R-York), and Tina Davis (D-Bucks), is now signed into law after five years of dedicated advocacy from a broad coalition of supporters.

“After years of advocating for this bill, it brings me so much joy to know that pregnant incarcerated women will finally legally have the right to be treated with decency,” said Tonie Willis, Leader of the Dream.Org Pennsylvania Empathy Network and Executive Director of Ardella’s House. “As someone who was formerly incarcerated, I am reminded of the many women I have met along this journey and the traumas we have all faced. I am overjoyed to see this major advancement in criminal justice reform in my home state of Pennsylvania and will continue to do the work to protect the dignity of women.”

Criminal justice reform remains at the forefront of Dream.Org’s mission, which is why the organization hosts programs like the Empathy Network Advocacy Cohort to provide second chances and amplify the voices of those closest to the solutions to our most challenging systemic issues. This is the second bill supporting incarcerated women that Dream.Org’s Empathy Network has successfully advocated for in 2023, with HB 2535 in Oregon having passed earlier this year.   

“We are so proud of the work we’ve done alongside our Empathy Network leaders, like Tonie Willis from Ardella’s House, who has such an unparalleled grasp of these issues, and our allies like the American Conservative Union, who make this bipartisan work possible,” said Janos Marton, Chief Advocacy Officer at Dream.Org. “While this moment deserves to be celebrated, our commitment to innovative criminal justice reform here in Pennsylvania and across the country is just beginning and we will continue leading that charge.”



Dream.Org works to make the American dream a reality - for all of us. We close prison doors and open doors of opportunity. We bring people together across racial, social, and partisan lines to create a future with freedom, dignity, and opportunity for all. Learn more at Dream.Org.

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