Currently, there are around 75,000 people in the state prison and jail system and some of them are not getting the adequate health care services that they need.
Access to birth control is just one challenge facing women inmates. Since birth control has many uses besides just for sexual activity, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) says women should have easy access to it.
“You don’t need to be family planning, you can just have polycystic syndrome or you just need it for other health reasons,” Rozic said.
There have been significant improvements to the health care services available to incarcerated women, such as easy access to feminine hygiene products without having to approach a male officer.
“There’s a distribution on a monthly basis and then the offender would have that available to them,” Daniel Martuscello, Deputy Commissioner for Department of Corrections, said.
Another improvement is that women are no longer shackled while giving birth.
“We will not shackle any pregnant female while being transported to or from any outside medical appointment,” Anthony Annuci, New York State Department of Corrections Commissioner, said. “We will not shackle her when she’s on her way to labor.”
There is still a ways to go such as access to hygiene products while in solitary confinement and the lack of gynecologists, especially in rural jails or prisons where even the staff doctor is part-time.
“Instead of full time, she is 80 percent time. So it’s that much less than a 40 hour work week,” Dr. Carl Koenigsmann, Chief Medical Officer for New York State Department of Corrections, said.
“In the southern tier and western New York they do not have medical staff there that is 24 hours,” Ronald Walsh, President of the NYS Law Enforcement Officers Union, said.
New York State spends around $2.8 billion annually on corrections.