Every time the CA visits a women’s prison in New York, reports abound concerning the poor standards of health care in general, and the struggles experienced by women who are incarcerated to secure women-specific care. “Reproductive Injustice: The State of Reproductive Health Care for Women in New York State,” the February 2015 report by the Women in Prison Project, reveals the failure of the New York State prison system to provide quality reproductive health care and treat women with respect for their basic dignity and human rights.
Based over a five-year period on interviews with 950 incarcerated women, 20 visits to prisons housing women in New York, data from over 1,550 surveys, and reviews of medical charts, the report reveals a shockingly poor standard of care, the routine denial of basic reproductive health and hygiene items, and the continued illegal practice of shackling pregnant women during labor and childbirth. Read our press release about the report here.
Highlights of our key findings in “Reproductive Injustice” about reproductive health care in the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) are:
1) Women are routinely shackled during pregnancy and some still experience the horror of being shackled during childbirth, even though this practice was outlawed in NY in 2009.
2) Pregnant women face poor conditions of confinement, including insufficient food and damaging childbirth experiences.
3) Many women receive substandard reproductive health care and face serious delays in accessing GYN services.
4) Women are routinely denied basic reproductive health items, including contraception and sufficient sanitary supplies.
5) Women in solitary confinement face egregious conditions, and pregnant women can be, and are, placed in solitary, a dangerous setting for them and their babies.
This report is the latest effort by the Women in Prison Project and the Coalition for Women Prisoners to address the injustices of the prison system and to combat the over-incarceration of women. It would not have been possible without the brave women who participated in this study, who struggle each day to achieve what many of us on the outside take for granted. They are vital to a Reproductive Justice movement that began in the mid-1990s by a group of African American women seeking to create a framework that links the achievement of reproductive justice to basic social-economic and political power and resources that can enable all women to make healthy and self-determining decisions.
Here are links to articles and editorials about shackling and other examples of reproductive injustice:
To learn more, take action and get involved, you can:
Share the report with your networks using these hashtags: #EndReproInjustice, #StopShackling and #EndMassIncarceration
Donate to support our campaign
John J. Lennon, a contributing writer at The Marshall Project, has written for Vice, The Atlantic, and The New York Times. He is currently in Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York. He will be eligible for parole in 2029. Joe Cardo was out hunting for half-smoked cigarettes. From my perch at the white-boys’ table of the A Block [...]Read More
WOMEN AND ISOLATED CONFINEMENT Women held in isolated confinement are subjected to dehumanizing treatment—treatment that makes it difficult for them to maintain their dignity, hygiene, nutrition and personal property. They can get in trouble for something as simple as attempting to talk to the person next to them. They are denied commissary privileges which provide [...]Read More
Reports & Research
“Solitary at Southport: A 2017 Report Based Upon the Correctional Association’s Visits, Data Analysis, & First-Hand Accounts of the Torture of Solitary Confinement from One of New York’s Supermax Prisons”
“The isolation itself is torture. Mentally and emotionally, it breaks you down. Spiritually it strips you. The way it is built is to break you down as a person and push your family away.” From “Solitary at Southport” Solitary confinement is torture. New York State subjects people to solitary confinement and other forms of isolation [...]Read More