The “Pin” System

Women in Dwight Women’s Prison, Illinois
In recent months the Dwight Women’s Prison installed a “pin” system in its telephone system. This new law was allegedly caused by gang members allegedly gaining too much access to trafficking drugs by means of the telephone. Now prisoners’ calls are to be tape-recorded and limited to a certain number of calls. We were told to list all the phone numbers we plan to call, list the names of persons whom we call and that we cannot call anyone else except those numbers “if they are approved.” If you need to call another number they allow you to add or delete numbers every four months.
This is a problem. Out of the population of eleven hundred women in Dwight and Kankakee, excluding the women in Dixon and Logan, Illinois, medium security prisons, 95% are mothers. Many of the women have children in Department of Children and Family Servies, separated in foster homes, often moved to different placements. Some have children in different states and cities, being cared for by different family members. Occasionally a child could be hospitalized, or in a situation of some urgency.
With this “pin” system, mothers have to wait four months to add or delete their children’s phone numbers. This causes lack of stability in communication with the child and the child’s caregivers.
Perhaps the State of Illinois doesn’t feel the necessity of the mother to keep a bond with her children after incarceration. To do this is to sentence a prisoner to excessive punishment beyond the sentencing of the court. The mental and emotional torment of a parent trying to communicate with a child on a telephone system that allows you exactly 15 minutes to talk before it cuts you off, that interrupts your call with recorded messages that “the call is from a prison,” that records all your personal thoughts and sentiments is cruel and unusual punishment by the State of Illinois.
The situation with the male prisons concerning drug trafficking should not be an excuse to legitimize causing further pain and suffering to female prisoners’ children. Women are the main caregivers of children, and separations are emotionally fatal to them. It is mandatory that they have access to visitations, mail and phone services to their mothers, without delays of four months if they are moved to a new residence in foster care or with family.
In fact, it goes back to the insensitive natures of slave keepers towards women held in slavery and the atrocities they suffered: being brutally torn apart from their offspring without any compassion. Society has a moral obligation to the thousands of children dependent upon society after they have been separated from their mothers.
Write to the legislators about how they failed to consider this problem they’ve created for mothers and children!