Cheers and Jeers

Connecticut Strip-Searches Truants, Runaways

Saturday, July 21, 2001

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(WOMENSENEWS)--A 13-year-old girl was routinely stripped-searched at a Connecticut juvenile center after she refused repeated orders from a judge to attend her seventh grade classes, The New York Times reported.

The girl, now 14, along with another juvenile recently has brought a lawsuit against the state authorities for the search that took place in October.

"The lady told me I had to take off my clothes so they could look for scars so that I can't go home and say they did it and my parents can sue," she said.

"I was embarrassed. I don't like taking my clothes off in front of anyone."

It is standard procedure at the center to strip-search all the children who enter the facility, even if they are just returning from court or if they are moved to other facilities, the Times reported. The center holds 2249 teens--everyone from truants to children accused of violent crimes.

The other plaintiff in the lawsuit, a 15-year-old girl, was sent to detention after disobeying orders not to run away.

She has been treated for depression and as a child was sexually abused by a boy in her neighborhood.

Being strip-searched at the center "brought back everything I had gone through," she said. She said she has been strip-searched by detention centers about a half-dozen times.

Connecticut officials said they must strip-search all juveniles in detention to check for drugs or weapons, as well as for signs of abuse that could require treatment.

"It is really for the overall security of detainees," said William H. Carbone, executive director of court support services for Connecticut's judicial branch.--Jessica McRorie


WEnews Brief

Feds Won't Fund Contraception for Low-Income Women

(WOMENSENEWS)--About 50,000 uninsured, low-income women in New York State will be without family planning services because the Bush administration has denied a request from state officials to expand Medicaid insurance coverage to them.

State officials had asked the administration for a rules waiver that would allow them to provide family planning services to low-income women earning up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. They learned about the denial on Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services puts the poverty level for an adult at $8,590 per year and for a family of three at $14,630.

"It is the height of hypocrisy for a president who opposes a woman's right to choose to also limit women's access to family planning and reproductive health care--the very thing that prevents unintended pregnancies and in turn, reduces the need for abortion," said Carla Goldstein, vice president of public affairs at Planned Parenthood of New York City.

In New York, new mothers on Medicaid have contraceptive coverage for two years.

Many other women have no access to this type of care because they are not covered by private insurance through their employers' or their spouse's employers and, even though their income is low, they earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.

Because of this gap, states can receive family planning waivers that allow providers to offer family planning benefits to women who previously did not qualify for Medicaid. The waivers also extend the length of time that women can benefit from these services.

Asked about the decision by The Associated Press, Health and Human Services spokesman Peter Ashkenaz said the Bush administration was not denying the waivers because they dealt with contraceptive coverage "but because they only dealt with a single program," in this case family planning.

"The administration wanted waiver applications to include expansion of other benefits, like primary care coverage, so as not to attack the health benefit issues piecemeal," Ashkenaz was quoted as saying.

Similar requests had been granted to California and Florida, while waivers for family coverage recently were denied to Georgia and North Carolina.--Vaishalee Mishra

 
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