Females, babies, and bars

This week’s blog highlights the issue of female prisoners. Watch the VIDEO and read the short article about some of the issues facing female offenders when they arrive in US jails and prisons. While I’m aware that some women have committed crimes that should result in jail/prison sentence, I’m pretty taken aback by what happens to some once they walk through the doors of our jails and prisons. I’m particularly shocked by the plight of pregnant female offenders.

QUESTION: Can’t we find an alternative to sending pregnant females offenders to jail/prison?


14 responses to “Females, babies, and bars”

  1. Trish Sorenson says:

    This is one of the most inhumane problems I have heard about in our Criminal Justice System and that is saying something. I have heard about the lack of hygiene products for women during their periods, which is absolutely ridiculous. They cannot control that, no one can. Thus the issue is our country’s stigma against periods- get over it men, it is a normal bodily function. These guards and administrators need to realize this. Furthermore, for women to be shackled during childbirth, come on! Childbirth is already extremely painful, that women should be able to flail their limbs if need be, not be shackled to a bed. Also, I personally do not agree with solitary confinement for anyone, but just because someone is pregnant for their own “protection” is again ridiculous. Women are going through symptoms that are different for them than normal, they need all the help and support they can get. Overall, there needs to be a solution found to help women who are behind bars and pregnant, as well as all other women deserve to be given the hygiene products they need. The alternative would be blood everywhere and that would be a bigger issue.

  2. Heejung Moon says:

    The article was absolutely shocking to me. It is hard to believe that female offenders have been going through such hardships in modern society. I can’t agree more to the fact that prisons are designed for males only. First of all, shackling a woman to the bed when giving birth? It is so inhumane and ridiculous. The amount of pain they have to go through while giving birth will only be tripled when they are tied on bed. Second, I understand that prison is not the right place to raise a child. However, I do believe that a mom and a newborn baby should be able to spend at least some time together after the birth in a segregated area for both of their psychological well being. Third, all the women should have access to hygiene products. That should be part of their rights that they do not have to fight for. Some people say females behind the bars do not deserve it because they are there for the reason. However, I don’t necessarily agree with them. Unlike men, it is something females need for a life as a human. I do agree with the fact that they should restrict the number of products provided to them. But, denying their right for the products themselves is irrational. We do need to come up with the solutions for the rights for females behind the bar. Accordingly, we need more attention on this issue and more funding obviously.

  3. Kaleigh Cleaveland says:

    This article was not as shocking as one may have assumed. The treatment of prisoners is already construed as not the best, and knowing that women, specifically pregnant ones, are treated this way is not surprising. It is scary, but not shocking to me. The treatment of female pregnant prisoners is crazy – putting them into solitary confinement and then shackling them up when giving birth is troubling. Like with many other criminal justice practices, I think that the level of their crime committed should be taken into consideration with the treatment they are given while pregnant.

  4. Kazmarae Tyson says:

    Most of the article was shocking. However, I was not too surprised about the treatment of women in the prison system. It is known that prisoners in general do not get the best treatment. But I am disappointed that the treatment of pregnant female prisoners is so inhumane. There should definitely be alternatives to sending pregnant female offenders to jail or prison or even inside of prison different treatments or programs. They are making the pregnancy more stressful and women deserve the proper hygiene products, help, and support especially during a pregnancy.

  5. Hali Nichols says:

    I was not shocked when I read this article because I had previously read an article from the perspective of an inmate who had given birth in shackles in prison. It astounds me that our criminal justice system has yet to fix these issues. It is one thing to house women in buildings that were designed for men without restructuring but it is a completely different thing to restrict feminine products from inmates. In my Women and Crime Class I learned that some prisons have started to give inmates condoms free of charge to help protect against HIV and AIDS. If prisons can give out condoms to male prisoners why can’t they provide women when items that are necessary for their overall health. There has to be a better option for pregnant women who have committed a crime, especially since women are likely to commit less serious crimes than men and are less likely to be given plea deals. Not only would it save money for tax payer but it would benefit the overall health and treatment of both the mother and the baby.

  6. Jonathan MacMartin says:

    Wow where should I begin with this one. I’ll start with the obviously awful parts of our criminal justice system that this article points out. First, feminine hygiene products are a basic need that prisons should be giving inmates for free. These products give women a rudimentary amount of dignity that should never be taken away or treated like a luxury. Second, shackling women during pregnancy is ridiculous. Do they really think that these women are going to make a break for it during the middle of giving birth? I wonder if there has ever even been a documented case of that. Third I think that our prison system needs to adjust to the fact that women are the fastest growing population of inmates in the U.S. Third, making it almost impossible for women (or men) to visit with their children is extremely detrimental to both them and their kids. The prison system is meant to reform people, but it cannot do that if it doesn’t even allow them to see their family.
    I have an interesting idea that may seem basic, but hear me out. We should treat women offenders with the same healthcare and dignity that women outside of prison receive. In some cases we should be providing them with even better healthcare than they may receive outside of prison. We need to provide women them with feminine hygiene products, treat pregnant women with the support and healthcare they need, and provide mothers with ways to communicate with their children. If we enact laws that do these very basic things we will see smaller recidivism rates. Choosing to enact these changes would initially be costly, but in the long run it would save taxpayers money by causing fewer returning offenders. Not to mention we would get the great bonus of treating women like they’re unique people that have different needs than men.

  7. Rachel Ellis says:

    This article was an interesting read. I was not shocked because I watch different shows on Netflix that shows the treatment of female prisoners although some of the shows may be exaggerated. The way they are treating the females are if they are males. Which is like taking their basic needs and humanities away. They are placing females in living conditions that are designed for a male and making them pay for their feminine products. I think when women commit a crime they do deserve consequences and should not get lead way because they are women for their should be different stipulations for example time for them to take care of their body or see their kids more.

  8. Gracie Blechl says:

    This article wasn’t shocking to me because I have researched this topic before. I completely agree with Van Jones in the video that women need more rights in prison starting today. Those imprisoned women who are with child deserve the same treatment as male prisoners, such as yard time,education options, library privileges ect., not to be in solitary confinement because that could be bad for the baby’s development if the mom is distressed. Non incarcerated mothers get a mandatory two weeks of paid leave time specifically to bond with their infant child and incarcerated mother’s have their infant taken right from their hands after birth. This is beyond belief. The sooner the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act gets passed the better. Women have endured enough within the prisons walls that haven’t been addressed, now that it’s being drawn to people’s attention things need to change.

  9. Zhanela Reed says:

    I do not find it surprising that females are treated so harsh pregnant or not . I think that even though they should be punished for the crime. I think that women need more rights in regard to this situation I am not entirely sure how it would happen considering that, women barely get the hygiene products that they need. I think that before a woman who is pregnant should be housed different , until the baby is due . they shouldn’t be chained up with the general population. women should receive more support and be able to go on doctor visits , just like any other woman can because its there right to be able to.

  10. Gina Gorman says:

    Incarceration of women is definitely a problem that needs more of a solution than just providing feminine hygiene products. Women need to be able to be social while incarcerated, they need to be in a facility within a distance that isn’t too much of a burden on their family to visit them, and they need treatment for previous abuse, substance abuse, and mental health issues. Although things are improving for women, correctional facilities were designed to house men, therefore, they are often inadequate to fit the security needs for women offenders. I do agree that shackling during labor and delivery is inhumane and unjust and does need to be banned. I also think that there should be alternative facilities for housing pregnant offenders. A facility where they can receive prenatal care, learn parenting skills, receive treatment for and substance abuse issues they may have and treatment for any mental health issues resulting from previous traumas. In these alternative facilities they can deliver their babies in a hospital like setting just and care for their babies instead of having them ripped away from them right after they deliver.

  11. Zachary Jahnke says:

    This article was pretty interesting to me on how they have pregnant woman locked up while they are giving birth. There is absolutely no reason on why they need to be locked up because these woman are not going to go off and run away after they just got done giving birth. I believe that these woman should have more rights and be treated more humane. They should design these prisons to be more hygienic for both men and woman and they should also change the rule for locking up woman for being pregnant. Overall this article was very interesting and I definitely think this issue should be addressed more.

  12. Maddie Vavrik says:

    I think it is so sad that this is even a problem in the United States.It is just really difficult to understand how someone can even be treated like this from the start, but even more difficult to understand that it is pretty common in our country. Women should be given more privacy in prison just in general and have women guards. Especially for those who are pregnant, they should have privacy throughout the entire length of their pregnancy. Even after they give birth, their baby should not be ripped away from them, as a mother they should be able to nurture their baby and I believe there is a way they can do so even while being monitored. It is so unfortunate that women are already treated this way in prison, but it is just shameful that a pregnant woman is shackled and chained to their bed and have their baby ripped away from them when they give birth. I think there are few alternatives that can be put in place, such as having female guards and even being monitored separately in a private room where they can be comfortable awaiting their baby and following the birth of their baby.

  13. Zoë Penczykowski says:

    I learned about incarcerated women being shackled during childbirth just this past year, and decided to do my legislative testimony project for my social welfare policy course on a Wisconsin bill which would limit the use of shackles during childbirth, as well as provide pregnancy/STD testing for female inmates and information and care related to pregnancy. My partner and I were just working on our project again after break and learned the bill failed to pass on March 28th. It is hard to believe that a bill which would secure these basic rights for women even needs to be passed – no one should have to fight for these rights in the first place – but for the bill not to pass? Disgusting. I think if more people knew about this inhumane treatment, there would be more of a push against it. I hope that by the time this fight reaches legislators again it gets more publicity and passes.

  14. Morgan Borchardt says:

    This article and video was pretty interesting to me, unfortunately not surprising. I like how in the article that it states that our prison system was designed for men, I think this makes an interesting point. There should be more done to solve the problem with incarceration of women. I feel as though we can find alternatives. There is a documentary on Netflix about women that are incarcerated that live in a special building that are allowed to live with their children and get a cell with them. There are a lot of behavioral requirements that these women would have to follow and there’s an age cut off of when the child can no longer live there. This would be difficult to implement everywhere, but it has already been done and if we can’t find a solution to incarcerating women that are pregnant all together maybe this is a step in the right direction.

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