Number of pregnant women in US prisons going up but authorities least concerned about their basic healthcare needs, says report
A survey was conducted by Prison Policy Initiative covering 50 states of the country and it was found only California took real care of its pregnant jail inmates.
The US has the largest incarcerated population in the world and there are myriads of problems related to this issue that are concerning to activists. One such problem is the denial of healthcare service to pregnant women in prisons. Reports have revealed that many pregnant women in prisons and jails across America have been denied basic needs, leading to an uproar. Women have been found to be giving birth in a lot of agony with nobody coming to their aid.
Prison Policy Initiative recently came out with a report throwing light on these issues. It also said that besides the healthcare issues for pregnant women, documentation of pregnancies is also not done seriously and sometimes, it is anecdotal. A shocking revelation is that the most recent data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) was collected way back in 2004. That year, the BJS reported that four percent of women in state prisons and three percent in the federal prisons were pregnant at the time of their entries. No data have been released in the next decade and a half.
A recent study covering 22 state prison systems and all federal prisons that came out in the American Journal of Public Health found around 3.8 percent of the women were pregnant when they arrived in prison between 2016 and 2017.
Number of pregnant women have gone up
While the prison pregnancy rate may have remained flat since the early 2000s, the additional 10,000-plus women imprisoned since then has shown that the number of women who are jailed while pregnant has grown, the report added.
“Given the scale and stakes of this issue, it is imperative that correctional systems set policies that ensure the health and well-being of pregnant women in their custody. Provisions for adequate nutrition and prenatal medical care must be codified in policy to protect against negative health outcomes, such as miscarriages and low fetal birth weights, that can impact mothers and their children for the rest of their lives,” the PPI report said.
It said that the policies of each of the 50 states’ prison system and the federal Bureau of Prisons to assess how much they abide by the national guidelines were seen and it was concluded that most of them failed to meet even the basic requirements like prenatal care and nutrition.
California is the only exception
California was found to be a rare exception that provided a policy model including specific requirements for supplemental nutrition for the pregnant women in jail, the PPI report added. It provided extra ounces of milk or calcium if lactose-intolerant, extra servings of fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. The Golden State was found to be the only one to give a serious nutrient breakdown of additional food provisions for expecting mothers in jail.