Notwithstanding shackling, numerous pregnant ladies who deliver while imprisoned are very quickly separated from their infants right after delivery. Subsequent to giving birth, most imprisoned mothers are permitted just 24 hours with their babies in the clinic; the newborn children are then either placed with family members or in foster care, and the mothers are sent back to jail or prison.
“This separation is obliterating for both mother and baby. For babies, maternal separation upon entering the world can prompt multifaceted, extremely emotional and behavioral issues later in life; including low confidence, less effective peer connections, and trouble adapting to life stressors. For mothers, this separation can likewise be mentally traumatizing and has appeared to build the danger of increased recidivism,” says Pamela Winn, African-American political and social justice activist, the founder of RestoreHER. Via RestoreHER, Winn supports reentry policy advocacy, which is dedicated to empowering the lives of directly impacted women, ending mass incarceration of women of color and pregnant women.
Additionally, Pamela Winn spearheaded the campaign, #DIGNITY For Incarcerated Women GA, that eventually led to HB345 passing “unanimously” to end shackling and solitary confinement of incarcerated pregnant women in GA. The HB345 passage served as the stepping stone bringing forth considerations about the need for post-natal reforms in the correctional facilities. Distinguished as the face of Digity for Incarcerated Women and a national leader in anti-shackling legislation, Pamela Winn also serves as the National Advisory Council of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT). She is also the Vice President of the board for Association of Justice-Involved Females and Organizations (AJFO), a board member of Motherhood Beyond Bars, and Women’s Advisory Team with Human Impact Partners, where public health officials and formerly incarcerated women collaborate to address the social determinants of criminalization.
The Rise of Positive Reforms in Jails
With the developing number of females in jail, divisions of corrections in 12 states currently offer prison-based nursery programs that house mothers and their babies in special units. Nonetheless, these programs have broadly contrasting limits and rehabilitative services.
While incarcerated women have exceptionally high rates of substance misuse and psychological sickness, narratives of sexual and physical maltreatment, and different medical issues, for example, HIV and hepatitis C, not even 50% of these nursery programs offer suitable services, for example, substance misuse therapy, mental health care, and domestic violence at counseling.
Currently, Massachusetts is the solitary state to offer community-based alternates, where mothers can keep their infants with them for as long as two years in a residential correctional program in the community; be that as it may, these women may need to return to the jail later to complete their sentences.
“While new and restricted in scope, jails have a number of diversion programs, through which sentenced individuals attend community-based drug treatment programs as an alternative to incarceration, have likewise made an attempt at keeping moms and their infants together. But, in spite of the development of jail and community-based nurseries, most detained ladies continue to be isolated very quickly from their babies which is a devastating circumstance for both mothers and their babies,” says Pamela Winn.
Yet, all women, paying little mind to detainment status, have the right to have a protected, healthy, and honorable pregnancy and delivery, which essentially involves freedom from medically perilous and dehumanizing limitations. With the development of the female jail populaces, legislative endeavors to end shackling is fundamental and necessary. Additionally, reproductive rights for all females don’t end with birth; society should maintain the right of a competent parent to raise her own infant—and a women’s imprisonment status alone doesn’t demonstrate ineptitude.
Regardless of the recent expansion of jail and community-based nurseries, and the passing of laws to ban shackling, incarcerated women continue to have these rights violated. Many detained mothers and infants are isolated after delivery, as well as within some circumstances, legislations like one ASFA can bring about the lasting end of parental rights. Pamela Winn thereby emphasizes that States ought to organize to eliminate community-based nurseries, abolish the incarceration of pregnant women, and guaranteeing that nurturing classes, substance misuse, and psychological counseling, and social services are provided sufficiently.
Currently, Pamela Winn is working on the Women’s C.A.R.E. (Childbirth Alternatives, Resources, and Education) Act that aims to provide alternative solutions for pregnant women in Georgia. The plan is that incarcerated pregnant women will be deferred not to start their prison sentence until 12 weeks postpartum. With this legislation, Winn desires to promote welfare and harm reduction of the directly impacted pregnant women. More prominently, this legislation will create a safer, healthier environment for all while diminishing the pressure on government resources required to enforce post-natal reforms in jails and prisons.