Thursday, June 23, 2016

Despite Legal Restrictions, Massachusetts Still Shackling Pregnant Inmates

Jezebel (May 17, 2016): Report Finds Pregnant Massachusetts Inmates Are Still Being Illegally Shackled, by Anna Merlan:

In 2014, Massachusetts passed legislation prohibiting the shackling of pregnant inmates.   The law prohibits shackling women when they are in labor, in their second or third trimester of pregnancy and immediately post-delivery.  Despite the law a recent report found that many Massachusetts counties fail to enforce law and even have written policies that explicitly violate it.

The report published by Prisoners' Legal Services and the Prison Birth Project

charges that neither the state Department of Corrections nor a single county sheriff’s office is fully implementing the anti-shackling law, and that knowledge of what the law even entails “varies not just from one prison or jail to another, but among corrections personnel who work for the same prison or jail.”

The report documents instances of shackling during labor and in hospital beds post-delivery.  The report also found violations of the law's requirement that pregnant women be transported in vehicles with seatbelts to prevent the danger caused by sliding around in van seats or benches while handcuffed. 

Massachusetts is one of 22 states that have anti-shackling laws.  Its experience illustrates the need for monitoring and implementation of these laws.


June 23, 2016 in Incarcerated Women, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Indiana Court Applies Fetal Homicide Law to Pregnant Woman, Sentencing Her to 20 Years

Vox: An Indiana woman is facing 20 years in prison for "feticide", by Christophe Haubursin: 

Indiana did something unprecedented this week: it sentenced a woman to a 20-year prison sentence for violating a decades-old feticide law.

Purvi Patel's conviction, announced on Monday, is the first American case in which a court has found a pregnant woman guilty of violating a fetal homicide law. . . .

April 3, 2015 in Fetal Rights, Incarcerated Women, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dorothy Roberts on Punishment of Black Mothers through Prison and Foster Care Systems

Dorothy E. Roberts (University of Pennsylvania Law School) has posted Prison, Foster Care, and the Systemic Punishment of Black Mothers on SSRN. Here is the abstract: Image1

This article is part of a UCLA Law Review symposium, “Overpoliced and Underprotected: Women, Race, and Criminalization.” It analyzes how the U.S. prison and foster care systems work together to punish black mothers in a way that helps to preserve race, gender, and class inequalities in a neoliberal age. The intersection of these systems is only one example of many forms of overpolicing that overlap and converge in the lives of poor women of color. I examine the statistical overlap between the prison and foster care populations, the simultaneous explosion of both systems in recent decades, the injuries that each system inflicts on black communities, and the way in which their intersection in the lives of black mothers helps to make social inequities seem natural. I hope to elucidate how state mechanisms of surveillance and punishment function jointly to penalize the most marginalized women in our society while blaming them for their own disadvantaged positions.

December 11, 2012 in Incarcerated Women, Parenthood, Poverty, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Federal Court Ruling Expected on Alabama Policy Isolating Inmates with H.I.V.

The New York Times: Ruling Soon on Isolation of Inmates With H.I.V., by Robbie Brown: Image1

ATLANTA — In his first week in prison in Alabama, Albert Knox, a former pimp convicted of cocaine possession, tested positive for H.I.V.

Afterward, he says, guards called out “dead man walking” as he passed through the halls. He was banned from eating in the cafeteria, working around food or visiting with classmates in his substance-abuse program. . . .

November 20, 2012 in In the Courts, Incarcerated Women, Sexually Transmitted Disease, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

British Woman Sentenced to 8 Years For Self-Induced Abortion at 39 Weeks

BBC News: Sarah Catt jailed for full-term abortion of baby:

A woman who aborted her own baby in the final phase of her pregnancy has been jailed for eight years.

Sarah Louise Catt, 35, of Sherburn-in-Elmet, North Yorkshire, took a drug when she was full term, 39 weeks pregnant, to cause an early delivery. . . .

September 18, 2012 in Abortion, In the Courts, Incarcerated Women, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Woman Prosecuted for Suicide Attempt While Pregnant Rejects Plea Deal

The Associated Press reports that Bei Bei Shuai, the Chinese immigrant who was prosecuted in the U.S. for trying to commit suicide while pregnant, has rejected a plea deal pursuant to which prosecutors would have dropped the murder charge.  The AP story is available here.

Read more about the case via National Advocates for Pregnant Women here.

July 13, 2012 in Fetal Rights, In the Courts, Incarcerated Women, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Rape Survivor Sues FL County Jail for Refusal To Provide Emergency Contraception

ThinkProgress: Florida Rape Victim Sues County Jail After Being Denied Emergency Contraception, by Annie-Rose Strasser:


Image1 A Florida rape victim is suing her county jail and its medical contractor after one employee allegedly refused to give her emergency contraception, citing religious reasons.


After the woman — identified as R.W. — was raped, she went to the jail to identify her assailant. While there, the victim was placed under arrest for an outstanding warrant. It was during this arrest that the incident occurred. . . .

July 11, 2012 in Contraception, In the Courts, Incarcerated Women, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Sexual Assault, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bei Bei Shuai Released from Jail; Still Faces Trial for Baby's Death Following Her Suicide Attempt While Pregnant

WISHTV: Bei Bei Shuai 'happy' for release from jail, by AJ Colley:

The woman accused of killing her baby by ingesting rat poison while pregnant left the Marion County Jail on Tuesday with a smile.

Bei Bei Shuai is facing murder and feticide charges in connection with the incident. She gave birth to the baby, but the child later died. . . .

May 22, 2012 in In the Courts, Incarcerated Women, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Advocating for Humane Treatment for Birthing, Incarcerated Women

AlterNet: Birthing Behind Bars: Fighting for Reproductive Justice for Women in Prison, by Tina Reynolds & Victoria Law:

"I never thought of advocating outside of prison. I just wanted to have some semblance of a normal life once I was released," stated Tina Reynolds, a mother and formerly incarcerated woman. Then she gave birth to her son while in prison for a parole violation:

"When I went into labor, my water broke. The van came to pick me up, I was shackled. Once I was in the van, I was handcuffed. I was taken to the hospital. The handcuffs were taken off, but the shackles weren’t. I walked to the wheelchair that they brought over to me and I sat in the wheelchair with shackles on me. They re-handcuffed me once I was in the wheelchair and took me up to the floor where women had their children. 

"When I got there, I was handcuffed with one hand. At the last minute, before I gave birth, I was unshackled so that my feet were free. Then after I gave birth to him, the shackles went back on and the handcuffs stayed on while I held my son on my chest."
That treatment, she recalled later, was "the most egregious, dehumanizing, oppressive practice that I ever experienced while in prison." Her experience is standard procedure for the hundreds of women who enter jail or prison while pregnant each year. . . .

May 14, 2012 in Incarcerated Women, Parenthood, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Conservative Spanish Government Plans to Tighten Abortion Law

Spain flagAFP: Spain government 'plans abortion reform':

MADRID — Spain's conservative government plans to tighten the country's abortion law to oblige girls aged 16 and 17 seeking the procedure to have their parents' consent, its justice minister said Wednesday.

Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon said he was drawing up a bill to change the former Socialist government's 2010 law which fully legalised abortion up to 14 weeks of pregnancy. . . .

January 25, 2012 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Incarcerated Women, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Oregon Inmate Seeking Abortion Awaits Judge’s Approval

KATU News: Inmate must be stable before judge decides abortion request, by Patrick Preston: Image1 

MCMINNVILLE, Ore. - A pregnant Portland woman jailed in Yamhill County who requested to be temporarily let out of jail to get an abortion is a step closer to getting the procedure.

But on Wednesday, Yamhill County Circuit Court Judge John Collins ordered that Bridget Burkholder, 23, be stabilized at an intensive care facility before he decides whether she can get the abortion.

Burkholder is being held in the Yamhill County Jail while awaiting trial for attempted arson, criminal mischief and three lesser charges. Her bail was set at $65,000, requiring a $6,500 payment for release.

She will now be evaluated by mental health professionals to determine if she’s competent to make the decision to have the abortion. . . .

July 7, 2011 in Abortion, In the Courts, Incarcerated Women, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

U.S. Women Increasingly Prosecuted for Stillbirths Outcry in America as pregnant women who lose babies face murder charges, by Ed Pilkington:

Women's rights campaigners see the creeping criminalisation of pregnant women as a new front in the culture wars over abortion

Rennie Gibbs is accused of murder, but the crime she is alleged to have committed does not sound like an ordinary killing. Yet she faces life in prison in Mississippi over the death of her unborn child.

Gibbs became pregnant aged 15, but lost the baby in December 2006 in a stillbirth when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit – though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby's death – they charged her with the "depraved-heart murder" of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence.

Gibbs is the first woman in Mississippi to be charged with murder relating to the loss of her unborn baby. But her case is by no means isolated. Across the US more and more prosecutions are being brought that seek to turn pregnant women into criminals. . . .

H/T: Linda Hutjens

June 28, 2011 in Incarcerated Women, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Federal Judge Rules Shackling Pregnant Woman During Labor and Birth Violated her Rights

The Tennessean: Shackled mom wins case, by Chris Echegaray:

A federal judge has ruled in favor of a Nashville mother who triggered a national outcry after she was shackled during labor and after giving birth while in custody of the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office.

U.S District Court Judge William Haynes Jr. will set a hearing for damages against Metro government and the sheriff’s office in the Juana Villegas case, which grew out of a July 3, 2008, traffic stop in Berry Hill. . . .

May 2, 2011 in In the Courts, Incarcerated Women, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Feticide Bills Used to Prosecute Women Who Induce Miscarriage

The Nation: Policing Pregnancy, by Michelle Goldberg:

Pregnant Inmate Utah prosecutors and conservative politicians are determined to lock up the young woman known in court filings as J.M.S. for the crime of trying to end her pregnancy. Her grim journey through the legal system began in 2009, when she was 17 and pregnant by a convicted felon named Brandon Gale, who is currently facing charges of using her and another underage girl to make pornography. J.M.S. lived in a house without electricity or running water in a remote part of Utah. Even if she could have obtained the required parental consent and scraped together money for an abortion and a couple of nights in a hotel to comply with Utah’s twenty-four-hour waiting period, simply getting to the nearest clinic posed an enormous challenge. Salt Lake City is more than a three-hour drive from her town, twice that in bad weather, when snow makes the mountain passes treacherous. There is no public transportation, and she didn’t have a driver’s license. . . .

In recent years, women in several states have faced arrest and imprisonment for the crime of ending their pregnancies, or merely attempting to do so. For decades now, feminists have warned about a post–Roe v. Wade world in which women are locked up for having abortions. Antiabortion activists dismiss such fears as propaganda. . . .

April 23, 2011 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Incarcerated Women, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Look at Whether the Prison Rape Elimination Act Will Protect Incarcerated Women

The Nation: Will the Justice Department Stand Up for Women Raped in Prison?, by Rachel Roth:

Prison Eight years ago, Congress acknowledged the brutal fact of systemic sexual assault behind bars by unanimously passing the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). The Justice Department is now poised to issue final rules to implement the law, which makes federal funding to prisons and jails contingent on improved staff training, availability of medical and psychological services for people who suffer sexual assault, investigations and publicly available data about reported assaults.

But because violence is endemic to imprisonment, some level of sexual violence will persist. And for women, one consequence of sexual violence is pregnancy, especially for those who are forced to endure repeated rapes. More than 200,000 women are imprisoned right now, and many more pass through prisons and jails over the course of a year—each one vulnerable to sexual assault, and to pregnancy resulting from it. Despite the years of hearings, testimony and research, the Justice Department’s PREA rules still fail to protect the reproductive rights and health of women in this situation. . . .

April 14, 2011 in Abortion, Incarcerated Women, Sexual Assault | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Schwarzenegger Vetoes Bill Banning Shackling of Pregnant Inmates

RH Reality Check: Schwarzenegger Vetoes Bill to Ban Shackling of Pregnant Women, by Jodi Jacobson:

Schwarzenegger Over the past year, we have invited a number of reproductive justice advocates to write about the barbaric practice still used in many United States prisons of shackling pregnant women, sometimes for transport, sometimes throughout their incarceration, and often while they are giving birth.  Articles have been written on this issue by Tonya Williams, Malika Saada Saar, Anna Clark, and Amie Newman, among others, and we chronicled the passage of anti-shackling bills in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington State.  The American Medical Association, the Association of Certified Nurse Midwives, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Human Rights Watch among other leading medical and human rights organizations oppose shackling of pregnant women.

Given the building consensus that shackling pregnant women is not only unnecessary--the vast majority are in prison for non-violent crimes in the first place--but  degrading to say the least, it was a shock to find out this morning that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill passed by the California Legislature to end shackling of pregnant women in his state. . . .

September 29, 2010 in Incarcerated Women, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety, State and Local News, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In Wake of Mexico City's Legalization of Early Abortion, Many Mexican States Aggressively Enforce Abortion Bans

NY Times: Many States in Mexico Crack Down on Abortion, by Elisabeth Malkin:

Handcuffs GUANAJUATO, Mexico — The woman came into the hospital, bleeding, scared and barely out of her teens. But before anyone would treat her, the authorities had to be called.

Doctors believed that she had had an illegal abortion, so first, a man from the prosecutor’s office had to arrive and ask her about her sexual history. Then, after she was treated but still groggy from the anesthesia, another investigator showed up and took her statement.

The investigation is still open two months later. Prosecutors are seeking medical records to determine whether they will charge the young woman, who asked that her name not be used, as well as the person they suspect helped her. . . . 

September 26, 2010 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Incarcerated Women, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Iranian Women's Rights Activist Released from Prison on Bail

Feminist Wire (Ms. Magazine): Iranian Activist and Journalist Released From Prison:

Iranian women's rights activist and journalist Shiva Nazar Ahari was released from the notorious Evin Prison yesterday on approximately $500,000 bail. Ahari had been held since December 2009 on a number of charges, including "waging war against God," according to Radio Free Europe.

Ahari was arrested while traveling to attend the funeral of dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. According to Reuters, an Iranian opposition website reported that, while in prison, Ahari has spent more than 100 days in solitary confinement. . . .

September 14, 2010 in Incarcerated Women, International, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Mexican Women Imprisoned for "Infanticide" Are Freed After Advocates and Legislators Intervene

Los Angeles Times: 7 Mexican Women Freed In So-Called Infanticide Cases, by Tracy Wilkinson & Cecilia Sanchez:

Advocates say the women, who insist they suffered miscarriages, got caught up in cultural wars over abortion.

The seven women were accused of killing their newborn babies and handed long prison sentences. They insisted they had suffered miscarriages and should not be punished; one claimed she wasn't even sure she was pregnant.

The women have finally been freed, after years in jail and only after their cause was taken up by human rights organizations here and abroad and by a handful of determined legislators. . . .

Advocates for the women say they got caught up in Mexico's cultural wars over abortion. . . .

September 10, 2010 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Incarcerated Women, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mark Egerman on Inmates' Right to Elective Abortions Under the Eighth Amendment

Mark Egerman (fellow, Georgetown University Law Center, and staff counsel, National Abortion Federation) has posted Roe v. Crawford: Do Inmates Have an Eighth Amendment Right to Elective Abortions?, on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This note examines the legal questions surrounding incarcerated women who wish to receive an abortion. The note examines the 8th Circuit's ruling in Roe v. Crawford and explores the two legal arguments presented in that case. While the court ultimately found the Fourteenth Amendment argument valid and rejected the Eighth Amendment, the author argues that grounding inmate abortion rights in the Eighth Amendment is ultimately a more sustainable solution for reproductive justice advocates. The core of an Eighth Amendment case is presented with corresponding medical evidence that argues that not only should inmates have access to abortions, but that they should be funded the same as any other serious medical need under the Eighth Amendment.

July 23, 2010 in Abortion, Incarcerated Women, Law School, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)