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Congresswoman Grace Meng

Representing the 6th District of New York

Meng Secures Provisions in Reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act

Apr 4, 2019
Press Release
Bill passes House
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) secured several measures in the reauthorization of the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) which passed the House this afternoon.
 
VAWA is a 1994 law that seeks to protect women from violence and abuse including domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
 
Meng’s provisions, which are designed to assist women in federal prison, include the following:
 
  • Ensuring that parenting classes are made available to prisoners with limited English proficiency
This provision would allow ALL incarcerated women, regardless of the language they speak, to have equal access to parenting classes. It would ensure that no mother is denied the chance to learn to be the best possible parent or bond with their child simply because they speak no or limited English.
 
  • Directing the Director of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to develop tools that communicate parenting program availability and eligibility criteria to each BOP employee and each pregnant inmate to ensure that all incarcerated women understand the resources available to them
A recent Department of Justice review found that pregnancy programs at federal prisons were significantly underutilized, with only 37 percent of pregnant women participating in them, and both pregnant women and BOP staff lacked awareness of these programs. Meng’s measure would ensure that more pregnant women in prison and those who are new mothers take advantage of these programs, which help women acquire important parenting skills, bond with their newborns, and create a stable home environment upon their release. 
 
  • Ensuring that cultural competency training is included in trauma screening trainings for correctional officers, and all BOP employees including instructors and health care professionals
This amendment would ensure that those administrating trauma screening programs are able to address the unique trauma challenges of incarcerated women who come from diverse backgrounds, live with disabilities, or have limited English proficiency – regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. A better understanding of these needs will allow prison personnel to provide the best and most effective trauma care possible.
 
“The passage of VAWA is critical to our continued efforts to combat violence and abuse against women and I am proud to have voted for it,” said Meng. “I’m also proud to have secured several provisions in the bill that would improve our criminal justice system by ensuring needed resources for women. These resources would also help women re-enter society once they are released from prison. I thank my colleagues for supporting these measures and look forward to VAWA now passing the Senate.”
 
The VAWA reauthorization provides funding for prevention programs, services for victims, enhanced tools for law enforcement, and blocks domestic abusers from owning guns. The bill passed by a vote of 263-158.