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Jail administrators' perspectives of the services and needs of pregnant women incarcerated in county jails
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
: 9:30 AM - 9:50 AM
Pregnancy in the context of incarceration has been linked with health risks for both mothers and their infants (Knight & Plugge, 2005). Despite these risks, little is known about the services for pregnant women incarcerated in county jails or how these services could be tailored to fit women’s unmet needs, both in and out of jail. Contact with the criminal justice system in the form of a short jail stay may offer unique opportunities for providers to connect women with services (e.g., substance abuse counseling, prenatal care) and offer support when women re-enter their communities (e.g., supplemental nutrition programs, parenting education). Through semi-structured interviews with county jail administrators in one Midwest state, we sought to 1) Identify current facility policies and practices, as well as existing programs and services, affecting pregnant women in county jails; 2) assess jail administrators’ perspectives of unmet needs and barriers to services for pregnant incarcerated women. Interviews with jail administrators revealed considerable variation across jails in policies and practices related to how pregnant women were identified (i.e., pregnancy testing at intake), availability of options counseling, housing considerations (e.g., bunked on the bottom), nutrition and dietary considerations (e.g., prenatal vitamins), the availability of prenatal and mental health care, and the labor and delivery process (e.g., when and where women are transferred for delivery). Administrators reported that data were limited and few efforts were made to systematically track or serve this unique population. None of the jail administrators that were interviewed had data systems in place to document the number of pregnant women in their facility or their current pregnancy status (e.g., weeks gestation), though all the facilities’ administrators recognized that pregnant women in their facilities had unique needs. Some of the jail administrators discussed active partnerships with local public health agencies or community-based organizations to assist with the care of pregnant women during incarceration. Implications for future research, practice, and policy related to pregnant incarcerated women will be discussed.
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences
Describe the health care needs of pregnant women in county jails
Discuss jail administrators' perspectives on the care of pregnant women during incarceration
Keyword(s): Criminal Justice, Perinatal Health
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal investigator on several research projects related to pregnancy in the context of incarceration.
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.