Saturday, October 23, 2010

Human Rights Activists Report on the Treatment of Moms in Jail

I think the only thing worse than being in jail, would be being pregnant in jail. Possibly equal to that detrimental position would be those that are mothers in jail. While reading online, I stumbled upon a study about this situation among women. It caught my eye because you don't hear of it much. There are more mothers in our jail system than one would think, the sad part is that they are being treated horribly.

National Women's Law Center and the Rebecca Project for Human Rights released a report today. The study looked at the jail system in several states concentrating on three areas - prenatal care, shackling of pregnant women during childbirth, (can you imagine?) and community-based alternatives to incarceration enabling mothers to be with their children.

The report noted that there are more than 115,000 mothers incarcerated as of 2009. This striking number is worse knowing that only one state, Pennsylvania passed the testing with an A. Virginia failed the test. Most of the women are nonviolent, first-time offenders, and about two-thirds have at least one child under 18.

"We know some states that are doing the right thing that don't have policies, and some states that have good policies that aren't doing the right thing," she said. "We want prisoners and their families to know what they're entitled to." Jill Morrison, a co-author of the report and senior counsel at the law center, said the use of shackles during childbirth has abated in part because of individual women who've taken a stand against the practice after enduring it.

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