Online Program

Pregnancy in prison: Experiences of women in New York state

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 10:30 a.m. - 10:50 a.m.

Tamar Kraft-Stolar, Director, Women in Prison Project, Correctional Association of New York, New York, NY
Rachel Roth, PhD, Independent Scholar and Consultant, Arlington, MA
Background and Significance: One in three female prisoners worldwide is in the United States. This includes more than 2,300 women in New York State prisons. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 4-5% of women are pregnant when they enter state prison. Women in prison are typically among the most disadvantaged people in society and need access to the full range of pregnancy options and sufficient medical care to facilitate healthy pregnancy. Methods: We developed an original survey about pregnancy experiences as part of a larger multi-faceted investigation into prison conditions that includes interviews with women in prison and with medical staff and reviews of prison policies, data, and medical charts. Twenty-three women who had been pregnant in custody completed a survey in 2010 and 15 additional women who had been pregnant in custody were interviewed later. Research questions include: • How do prison medical policies compare to professional guidelines, community standards, and international norms? • How do women assess quality of care, diet, and other living conditions? Are women's reports of access to care consistent with official prison policies? • Are prisons complying with the 2009 state law against shackling during labor, birth, and postpartum recovery? Discussion: Medical care for imprisoned pregnant women is a constitutional mandate, a human right, and a means to reduce health disparities. Improvements are needed to satisfy these obligations.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Describe the top areas for improvement identified by women who have been pregnant in the New York State prison system; and compare women’s assessments of pregnancy-related care with professional standards.

Keyword(s): Pregnancy, Prison

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I direct the Women in Prison Project of the Correctional Association of New York and have experience monitoring prison conditions for women in New York State correctional facilities and writing reports based on such monitoring activities.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.