HB 1032 Correctional Services – Female Inmates and Inmates With Minor Children (Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act)

Committee: House Judiciary

Position: Support

The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) offers this testimony in support of House Bill 1032. The Conference represents the public policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch)dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington, which together encompass over one million Marylanders.

House Bill 1032 affirms the importance of attachment and the creation of a sustainable bond between a mother and her children, by authorizing visitation of an inmate who resides under low or minimum security classification by the inmate’s minor child or children at least two contact visits per week. This may have a positive future impact on her family unit and on the community.

The brain development of infants and young children (as well as their social, emotional and cognitive development) depends on a loving bond or attachment relationship with a primary caregiver, usually a parent. “There is increasing evidence from the fields of development psychology, neurobiology and animal epigenetic studies that neglect, parental inconsistency and a lack of love can lead to long-term mental health problems as well as to reduced overall potential and happiness.” (London J Prim Care (Abingdon). 2016; 8(1): 12–14.)

Allowing for these very human needs to be addressed affirms not only the dignity and value of the incarcerated mother but also the value and worth of her child. It is for these reasons that the Conference asks for a favorable report of House Bill 1032. Thank you for your consideration.