What To Do When Pregnant in a County Jail
Pregnancy is a uniquely destabilizing time for a person to be incarcerated.
Over a decade of advocacy, Texas Jail Project has fought for and won basic protections and rights for pregnant people incarcerated in county jails. These rights include mandated prenatal and OB-GYN care, restrictions on shackling, and transport to the hospital at the onset of labor.
It’s important to engage as quickly as possible to mitigate harm. These are immediate steps to take if your loved one is pregnant and experiencing crisis in jail.
What rights and protections do pregnant people have in Texas county jails?
Jails are required to meet legal minimum standards of care and safety. Below are some relevant sections of the Texas Administrative Code related to those standards for pregnant people. Please contact us if you have any questions.
Classification & Separation
What do I do if I or my pregnant loved one is experiencing harm in jail?
- File a complaint with Texas Commission on Jail Standards to report substandard conditions, treatment, or care concerns. Submit this immediately by emailing TCJS at firstname.lastname@example.org and cc Texas Jail Project at email@example.com
- If you’re unsure that your loved one is pregnant you can ask them to request a pregnancy test. If confirmed, let your loved one know they have the legal right to prenatal care including extra food and mattress, prenatal vitamins, freedom from being restrained during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and 12 weeks postpartum, regular OB-GYN visits, and transport to the hospital at the onset of labor.
- If your loved one was confirmed to be pregnant prior to their incarceration, provide their medical records, history, and contact information of their medical provider to the jail administrator or medical staff. You can cc Texas Jail Project on all correspondence.
- If your loved one has co-occurring mental health issues for which they were receiving care from your Local Mental Health Authority (LMHA), then please inform the LMHA. Feel free to call us on our HelpLine at 512-469-7665 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need assistance.
- If your loved one has a co-occurring substance use disorder, they may be eligible for diversion to Santa Maria which is a residential program in Houston for women and their young children. Your loved one’s attorney will be able to facilitate the diversion. Please email us if you need assistance or a referral.
- If you have questions about guardianship of children born while a parent is incarcerated, please contact a family attorney. This guardianship authorization form has been used by some of our community members in the past. Please note this does not constitute legal advice.
- Due to HIPAA regulations, the jail will not provide medical information to families and advocates without a signed medical release authorization.