Bill Text: MS HB585 | 2024 | Regular Session | Engrossed


Bill Title: "Dignity and Safety for Incarcerated Women Act"; enact.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Republican 2-0)

Status: (Failed) 2024-04-02 - Died In Committee [HB585 Detail]

Download: Mississippi-2024-HB585-Engrossed.html

MISSISSIPPI LEGISLATURE

2024 Regular Session

To: Corrections

By: Representatives Newman, Crawford

House Bill 585

(As Passed the House)

AN ACT TO CREATE THE "DIGNITY AND SAFETY FOR INCARCERATED WOMEN ACT"; TO DEFINE CERTAIN TERMS AS USED UNDER THIS ACT; TO PROVIDE THAT EVERY RESTROOM AND CHANGING ROOM WITHIN A CORRECTIONAL FACILITY THAT IS FOR USE BY INCARCERATED INDIVIDUALS SHALL BE DESIGNATED FOR USE BY MEMBERS OF ONE SEX; TO PROHIBIT ANY INCARCERATED INDIVIDUAL FROM ENTERING A RESTROOM OR CHANGING ROOM THAT IS DESIGNATED FOR ONE SEX UNLESS HE OR SHE IS A MEMBER OF THAT SEX; TO PROVIDE THAT EVERY RESTROOM, CHANGING ROOM AND SLEEPING QUARTER WITHIN A CORRECTIONAL FACILITY THAT IS DESIGNATED FOR THE USE OF INCARCERATED ADULTS THAT IS ACCESSIBLE BY MULTIPLE INDIVIDUALS AT THE SAME TIME SHALL BE DESIGNATED FOR USE ONLY BY MEMBERS OF ONE SEX; TO PROVIDE CERTAIN REMEDIES FOR VIOLATIONS OF THIS ACT; TO REGULATE PUBLIC STUDENT HOUSING FOR SINGLE-SEX EDUCATIONAL HOUSING; TO REGULATE HOW PERSONS ENTER A SINGLE-SEX EDUCATIONAL HOUSING SPACE; TO REQUIRE GOVERNMENTAL ENTITIES TO ESTABLISH CERTAIN REGULATIONS WITH CERTAIN DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURES; TO PROVIDE THAT A PERSON WHO WILLFULLY ENTERS A SINGLE-SEX EDUCATIONAL HOUSING SPACE, WHEN SUCH ENTRANCE IS PROHIBITED, SHALL BE COMMITTING THE OFFENSE OF TRESPASS; TO AUTHORIZE ASSERTION OF A VIOLATION OF THIS ACT; TO AUTHORIZE THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO BRING ACTION UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.

     BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:

     SECTION 1.  Sections 1 through 6 of this act may be cited as the "Dignity and Safety for Incarcerated Women Act."

     SECTION 2.  Legislative purpose.  The Legislature of the State of Mississippi finds that the purpose of this act is as follows:

          (a)  To provide for the safety and privacy needs of all incarcerated individuals in correctional and detention facilities in Mississippi; and

          (b)  To maintain order and dignity in restrooms, showers, housing facilities, and other facilities where incarcerated individuals may be in a state of undress in the presence of other incarcerated individuals.

     SECTION 3.  Definitions. 

     For purposes of this act, the following terms shall have the meanings ascribed herein:

          (a)  "Changing room" means a room or area in which a person may be in a state of undress in the presence of others, including a locker room or shower room.

          (b)  "Correctional facility" means a correctional facility operated, regulated or authorized by the Mississippi Department of Corrections to house state inmates.

          (c)  "Female" means an individual who has, had, will have or would have, but for a developmental or genetic anomaly or historical accident, the reproductive system that at some point produces, transports, and utilizes eggs for fertilization.

          (d)  "Male" means an individual who has, had, will have or would have, but for a developmental or genetic anomaly or historical accident, the reproductive system that at some point produces, transports, and utilizes sperm for fertilization.

          (e)  "Restroom" means a room that includes one or more toilets or urinals.

          (f)  "Sex" means a person's biological sex, either male or female, as observed or clinically verified at birth.

          (g)  "Sleeping quarters" means a room with more than one bed and in which more than one individual is housed for sleeping.

     SECTION 4.  Safety and privacy in correctional facilities.

     (1)  Every restroom and changing room within a correctional facility that is designated for the use of incarcerated individuals and that is accessible by multiple individuals at the same time shall be designated for use only by members of one sex. 

     (2)  A restroom or changing room within a correctional facility that is designated for one sex shall be used only by members of that sex and no incarcerated individual shall enter a restroom or changing room that is designated for one sex unless he or she is a member of that sex and the correctional facility shall ensure that all restrooms and changing rooms provide its users with privacy from members of the opposite sex.

     (3)  Each sleeping quarter within a correctional facility that is designated for the use of incarcerated individuals and that is accessible by multiple individuals at the same time shall be designated for use only by members of one sex. 

     (4)  A sleeping quarter within a correctional facility that is designated for one sex shall be used only by members of that sex and no incarcerated individual shall be housed in a sleeping quarter that is designated for one sex unless he or she is a member of that sex.

     (5)  This section shall not apply to an incarcerated individual who enters a restroom, changing room, or sleeping quarter designated for the opposite sex when entering for the following purposes:

          (a)  For custodial or maintenance purposes;

          (b)  To render medical assistance;

          (c)  During a natural disaster, emergency, or when necessary to prevent a serious threat to good order or safety; or

          (e)  On a temporary basis (which shall not include overnight housing) at the direction of the correctional facility.

     SECTION 5.  Remedies.

     (1)  An incarcerated individual who, while accessing a restroom or changing room designated for use by their sex, encounters a person of the opposite sex in that restroom or changing room in violation of Section 4, has a private cause of action for declaratory and injunctive relief against the correctional facility if:

          (a)  The correctional facility gave that person permission to use a restroom or changing room of the opposite sex; or

          (b)  The correctional facility failed to take reasonable steps to prohibit that person from using the restroom or changing room of the opposite sex.  

     (2)  An incarcerated individual who is required by the correctional facility to share sleeping quarters with a person of the opposite sex in violation of Section 4, has a private cause of action for declaratory and injunctive relief against the correctional facility.

     (3)  All civil actions brought pursuant to this section must be initiated within two (2) years after the violation occurred.  An individual aggrieved under this section who prevails in court may recover reasonable attorney fees and costs from the offending correctional facility.

     SECTION 6.  If any subsection or portion of this act is declared invalid, that declaration shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions.

    SECTION 7.  (1)  For purposes of this section, the following terms shall have the meanings ascribed herein:

          (a)  "Institution of higher education" means any state institution of higher learning or public community or junior college.

          (b)  "Single-sex educational housing space" means a separate room or area located within an institution of higher education functioning as housing for student residents at an educational institution and designated for use or occupancy only for members of one (1) sex, but excludes common areas designated for use by members of both sexes.

          (c)  "Public building" means any building, facility or space owned, controlled, operated, rented or leased by, or rented or leased to a public university, public community or junior college and the institutions of higher learning.

          (d)  "Restroom" means a space designated for multiple individuals at an institution of higher education that includes toilets and/or urinals.  This term does not include a unisex restroom.

          (f)  "Unisex restroom" means a room at an institution of higher education that includes a toilet or urinal and that is intended for a single occupant or a family, is enclosed by floor-to-ceiling walls, and is accessed by a full door with a secure lock that prevents another individual from entering while the room is in use.

     (2)  Any single-sex education housing space that maintains a restroom shall, at a minimum, have:

          (a)  A restroom designated for exclusive use by females and a restroom designated for exclusive use by males; or

          (b)  A unisex restroom.

     (3)  Any public building that functions as housing for student residents at an institution of higher education shall provide students the option to be housed only in a single-sex educational housing space with persons of the same sex.

    (4)  Social fraternities and sororities at institutions of higher learning that have and operate single-sex housing facilities located on public land shall comply with the definitions contained within this act for purposes of maintaining such facilities as single sex only.

    (5)  A person may not enter a single-sex educational housing space, designated for the opposite sex, except under the following circumstances:

          (a)  To accompany a person of the opposite sex for the purpose of assisting or chaperoning a child under the age of twelve (12), a vulnerable person as defined in Section 43-47-5, or a person with a disability as defined in Section 43-6-203(b);

          (b)  For law enforcement, fire protection or response, or other public safety purposes;

          (c)  For governmental purposes, including employees or contractors of governmental entities acting within the scope of their employment or contract;

          (d)  For the purpose of rendering emergency medical assistance or to intervene in any other emergency situation where the health or safety of another person is at risk;

          (e)  For custodial, maintenance, or inspection purposes, provided that the restroom or changing facility is not in use;

          (f)  If the appropriate designated restroom or changing facility is out of order or under repair and the restroom or changing facility designated for the opposite sex contains no person of the opposite sex;

          (g)  A parent, guardian or sibling of a student living in a single-sex educational housing space to assist in moving or health purposes.

     (6)  The applicable governmental entity for each public building that is utilized by an institution of higher education for a single-sex educational housing space under its ownership, control or lease shall, within ninety (90) days, establish regulations and disciplinary procedures for any person who willfully enters, for a purpose other than those listed in Section 29-18-15, a single-sex dormitory space designated for the opposite sex on the premises of the public building and refuses to depart when asked to do so by any employee or contractor of the owner, lessee or lessor of the public building.

    (7)  A person who willfully enters, for a purpose other than those listed in Section 29-18-11, a single-sex dormitory space designated for the opposite sex on the premises of a public building and refuses to depart when asked to do so by an employee or contractor of the owner, lessee or lessor of a public building that is utilized as a single-sex educational housing space commits the offense of trespass as provided in Section 97-17-97.

     (8)  (a)  A person may assert a violation of this act as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding and obtain compensatory damages, punitive damages, injunctive relief, declaratory relief, or any other appropriate relief.  Such claim may be brought against any applicable governmental entity for each public building that is utilized as a single-sex educational housing space under its ownership, control or lease which caused or contributed to a violation of this act.

          (b)  Any person under eighteen (18) years of age may bring an action at any time to assert a violation of this act through a parent or next friend and may bring an action in their own name upon reaching the age of eighteen (18) years of age.

          (c)  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an action under this act may be commenced, and relief may be granted, in a judicial proceeding without regard to whether the person commencing the action has sought or exhausted available administrative remedies.

     (9)  In any action or proceeding to enforce a provision of this act, a prevailing party who establishes a violation of this chapter shall recover reasonable attorney's fees.

     (10)  The Attorney General shall bring an action to enforce compliance with this act.  This act shall not be construed to deny, impair, or otherwise affect any right or authority of the Attorney General, the State of Mississippi, or any agency, officer, or employee of the state, acting under any law other than this act, to institute or intervene in any proceeding.

     (11)  Any provision of this section is held to be invalid or unenforceable by its terms, or as applied to any person or circumstance, shall be construed so as to give it the maximum effect permitted by law, unless such holding shall be one of utter invalidity or unenforceability, in which event such provision shall be deemed severable herefrom and shall not affect the remainder hereof or the application of such provision to other persons not similarly situated or to other, dissimilar circumstances.

     SECTION 8.  This act shall take effect and be in force and after July 1, 2024.

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