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Prisoners Sue State for Unequal Treatment of Women

Cheryl Senter

Four female inmates are suing the Department of Corrections for what they say is a disparity of opportunity compared to the male prisoners in the state.

Four women in Goffstown and Concord prisons have filed a suit alleging that the Department of Corrections is out of compliance with the 1987 federal court order that required the state to provide female prisoners with services male inmates already receive.

These services include vocational education, mental health treatment and housing programs.

Elliott Berry, of New Hampshire Legal Assistance, says the DOC has done an admirable job providing opportunities in the men’s prisons but doesn’t think they have been given the resources to do the same for the women.

“The disparities are in areas that will make a huge difference in whether an inmate is able to stay out of prison after she gets out.”

The DOC says that much of the disparity in services has to do with outgrown infrastructure. A department spokesman said constructing a new women’s prison has been a priority for DOC in the last 3 budget cycles.