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Reproductive (In)Justice: 

A Newsletter on Pregnancy & Parenting in Prisons
JIWC Newsletter
September 2022

About Our Newsletter
Our newsletter features timely research and community spotlights, and highlights relevant resources and events at the intersection of incarceration, pregnancy, and parenting. This work is supported by the national Cross-Center Collaboration on the Health of Justice-Involved Women and Children (JIWC). The collaboration is made up of a group of formerly or currently HRSA-funded faculty, staff, and students from the following institutions’ maternal and child health (MCH) Centers of Excellence: the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, Emory, Harvard, the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), Johns Hopkins, the University of Alabama, and the University of North Carolina. 

Welcome Back
Our newsletter was paused during the summer months. We hope you enjoyed a restful break. If you no longer wish to receive our monthly newsletter you can unsubscribe here. Check out our webpage to learn more about the JIWC and to view archived newsletters from last year. 

Upcoming Special Edition
In light of an increasingly restricted landscape for abortion provision in the U.S., our next newsletter will focus on the impact of Dobbs on incarcerated populations. Please stay tuned for our bonus edition in early October!

Have a resource, community spotlight, event, or research findings you’d like us to feature in our next newsletter? Email us and someone from our team will follow-up with you. 

Events:

Save the Data: JIWC Webinar
Justice Involved Women and their Children in Evidence-Based Home Visiting Programs: Insights from Frontline Staff
November 9, 2022 | 11:15-12:10 pm CT 

Join the
JIWC for our next webinar hosted by Johns Hopkins University and the Hopkins MCH Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health for the fourth and final webinar of our series focused on “Support through Separation: Coping with Physical and Emotional Separation.” This series aims to provide a trauma-informed, welcoming, inclusive, and healing experience, especially for those with lived experience. Find recordings of the first three webinars here. Visit the webinar webpage for updates, including registration info and speaker bios.

 


Congressional Roundtable
Pregnancy in Prisons and the Need for Gender Responsive Programming
Webinar Recording


Watch a recording of the Congressional Roundtable from the Justice Center Council of State Governments to learn more about the needs and experiences of incarcerated people as they relate to sexual and reproductive health, pregnancy, and abuse. 
Event Description: “The event, hosted by Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) and Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC), aimed to better inform congressional leaders about the distinct experiences and needs of women who are incarcerated, including the lack of adequate services and care for pregnant women and women’s increased risk of sexual abuse. In addition to Curry-Nixon, six other experts and women with lived experience in the justice system spoke about the need for gender-responsive programming in prisons and jails to improve outcomes for women.”


Human Lactation Behind Bars
Michigan Breastfeeding Network
Access now until Nov. 17 


This recorded webinar from the Michigan Breastfeeding Network details labor and lactation support for incarcerated people and features speaker Elon Geffrard (BS, CLC, ICCE, CD(DONA). The event is CE accredited for a variety of professions. 
Event Description: “Participants can expect to understand the particulars of giving birth and lactating while incarcerated. Attendees will gain insight regarding the context of birth and support for incarcerated people in Michigan and hopefully gain tools to advocate for the rights of this unique population in their respective communities.” 

Recent Research
 
Children's Rights to Be Parented: Implications for Carceral Systems
In what she describes as a largely understudied topic, Cissy Morgan examines the fundamental legal right of children to be parented and the implications for families impacted by incarceration. Morgan’s mother was forcibly separated from her within 24 hours of her delivery, and Morgan experienced the “collateral effects of mass incarceration firsthand.” In this article, Morgan outlines demographic trends of maternal incarceration, describes the history and current iterations of prison nursery programs, and calls for the expansion of Children’s Rights to include the fundamental right to be parented. 
 
Factsheet: Carceral Harms for Pregnant People and Babies
Check out the recent factsheet and webpage from the National Partnership for Women and Families authored by Nicollete Wolfrey. Wolfrey provides a meta-analysis of existing research to demonstrate the ways in which mass incarceration “spectacularly fails communities struggling with the burden of structural racism and other forms of inequity.” She concludes with key recommendations. 
 
Ostara Initiative: Free Series on Health, Justice, and Leadership 
Check out a free, 7-part series from Ostara Initiative: Reimagining Health and Justice’s Vision Class. Learn more about “innovation and authentic leadership at the intersection of health and justice for pregnant and parenting people.” This series examines the legacies of slavery, mass incarceration, and the ways in which incarceration can impact generations of families. It also examines existing gaps in our health systems, and interventions that can better serve incarcerated people and their families. 
 
Recent News

In Alabama: Disproportionate Drug Sentencing for Pregnant Women
Amy Yurkanin reports: “Several pregnant women and new moms accused of exposing their fetuses to drugs have been held for weeks or months inside the Etowah County Detention Center under special bond conditions that require rehab and $10,000 cash.” After admitting to using marijuana on the day she found out she was pregnant, Ashley Banks slept on a jailhouse floor for months while waiting for bed to be available in a residential rehabilitation facility. Legal advocates and medical experts alike advise against this response to drug use during pregnancy. Far from protecting fetal life, incarceration exacerbates the potential for adverse pregnancy outcomes, and violates the equal protections of pregnant people. 
 
In California: Settlement Awarded Following Miscarriage
In 2016, Sandra Quinones’ water broke while she was in custody in Orange County, California. Quinones was not granted an ambulance, and the officials driving the patrol car to the hospital stopped at a Starbucks on the way. Quinones was later hospitalized and suffered a miscarriage. The Sheriff's officials declined to comment on the case, but have agreed to pay $480,000 in settlement. 
 
In Missouri: Bipartisan Effort to Create a Prison Nursery Program
Early this summer, Missouri lawmakers came together to pass the Correctional Center Nursery Program into law. The program will allow incarcerated people to stay with their new babies for up to 18 months at the Women’s Eastern Region Reception, Diagnostic, and Correctional Center in Vandalia. 
 
National: Community Wide Impact of Mass Incarceration
Candice Norwood reports that in the U.S. “1 in 4 women have a family member in prison, leaving them to carry the burden at home.” Norwood surveys national trends in mass incarceration, and examines the disproportionate burdens they pose on low-income women of color and their families. 
 
National: Inadequate Reproductive Health Services in U.S. Prisons and Jails  
Using case studies and recent research, Will Brendza provides an overview of the national picture for reproductive health in U.S. prisons and jails in his piece “Birth Behind Bars.” He describes how in many cases the standard of care for incarcerated people is far from “adequate” as they may struggle to access basic reproductive health services including pregnancy testing, abortions, and support through pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum. 
 
Meet Our Team

Rosie Laine (Editor) is a second year master’s degree student at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health in the Maternal and Child Health Program with a minor in sexual health. She is especially interested in reproductive justice, patient advocacy, health education, and harm reduction. 

Rebecca Shlafer (PhD, MPH) is an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Shlafer's research focuses on understanding the developmental outcomes of children and families impacted by incarceration. She is particularly interested in children with parents in prison, as well as the programs and policies that impact families impacted by incarceration. Dr. Shlafer is the research Director for the
Minnesota Prison Doula Project

Sara Benning (MLS) leads the day-to-day activities for the HRSA-funded Center for Leadership Education in Maternal and Child Public Health at the University of Minnesota. She has a background in family social sciences and gender studies. 


Jennifer Saunders (MSW) is a doctoral candidate in the Health Services Research, Policy and Administration program in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. Her research interest is health policy that impacts reproductive-age women and their families.
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