After Maine Gov. Paul LePage made national news earlier this month by claiming to have “pocket vetoed” 19 bills that became law without his signature, messages started popping up in my inbox saying things like “An accidental win!” and “Maine—accidentally—outlaws shackling pregnant women?”
In the newly released season of Orange Is the New Black, Daya Diaz must grapple with whether she should give her baby up for adoption or have the newborn go into foster care as she finishes her 36-month sentence. Diaz’s plight reflects the real-life situation of incarcerated mothers around the country.
Blended: Writers on the Stepfamily Experience notes that a whopping 95 million adults in the United States have a step-relationship. The book does not gloss over the difficulties involved with these situations, nor does it neglect the humor and affection often present.
Too often, news stories about people in prison or jail use dehumanizing language to describe those under government control. The term “inmate” is the most pervasive of these words; it is widely used by judges, prison and jail officials and staff, and the media.
In this first part of RH Reality Check‘s Women, Incarcerated series, we focus on one woman’s prison time—which involved a high-risk pregnancy, forced induced labor, and shackling—to illustrate the problems that thousands of women face behind bars.
The report details numerous violations of the state’s anti-shackling law, severely limited access to birth control, lack of trauma-informed clinical care, and a routine denial of basic hygiene items like sanitary napkins and toilet paper.
As ludicrous as Alabama’s law is, having lawyers for fetuses is not new—and they are not just appointed to try to stop girls from having abortions. In fact, they have been used for decades in state and judicial efforts to strip pregnant women of their civil and human rights.
Maya Schenwar’s book uses her family’s personal experiences with incarceration as a framing device for more general statistics about how the legal system works, addressing the racism, classism, heterosexism, and misogyny at the heart of law-and-order policies.
Dr. Dorothy Roberts is right: Incarceration of women “inflicts incalculable damage to communities …. [transferring] racial disadvantage to the next generation.”
For at least several years, Alameda County sheriffs and medical personnel have routinely conducted pregnancy tests on thousands of prisoners, old and young, fertile and sterile, willing or not. It’s a practice that isn’t shared by any other jails in California. No one can say for exactly how long Alameda County jails have been forcing arrested women to take pregnancy tests, and no one can really explain why.