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Posts Tagged ‘ pregnant inmates ’

We Support Small Bills That Make a Difference!

Jul 8th, 2019

By Diana Claitor, Executive Director (Austin American Statesman, July 7, 2019)

Gov. Abbott signed HB 1651 last month. It’s a small bill that won’t make headlines, but it will have a large effect on the health of more than 4,000 pregnant women incarcerated in Texas county jails each year. Not to mention the health of their unborn offspring. 

Texas Jail Project, an Austin nonprofit that works to improve conditions in Texas’ 241 county jails, presented information and stories to legislators during the session. About veterans needing mental health care, jailer training, PR bonds, and collection of demographic data on inmates. However, much of our work focused on the unique vulnerability of pregnant inmates.



Pregnant Women in Texas County Jails

Dec 1st, 2018

Each month Texas county jails tally the number of pregnant inmates and report that to the Jail Commission. Some are only held there a few days, but others may be incarcerated for weeks and months and a number will deliver their babies in local hospitals while in custody.



Could this baby’s death have been prevented?

Jul 20th, 2018
Child's memorial with flowers

In this new story from WFAA, top notch reporting reveals what happened to Shaye Bear as well as poor medical care for many pregnant inmates in Texas county jails. Tanya Eiserer and her team also expose punitive attitudes and blatant lies by Ellis County. The work of Texas Jail Project and observations from TJP’s director Diana Claitor provide context. Claitor commented that one serious problem is that many officers’ first reaction to an inmate’s complaints is that anything she says is a lie. But if the case of a pregnant inmate, another life is at stake if the jailer’s wrong, she said.

“They’re not always lying,” she said, referring to pregnant women.

Claitor says she’s received at least three complaints about the Ellis County jail – all of them involving pregnant inmates. Eiserer goes on to discuss how many women suffer in jails without any accountability.



Voices of Pretrial Detention in Texas

Aug 22nd, 2016

“Sharing my story might not make it more safe for myself, but I would like to make it safe for someone else.” says John Brown, who was jailed at Dallas County Jail for two and a half years while awaiting trial. His and other stories reveal what happens to unconvicted people held in jails, mostly because they cannot afford the bail—a practice outlawed in many developed nations.
Last year, Texas Jail Project launched a website, “Jailhouse Stories: Voices from Pretrial Detention in Texas.” Collected over a two-year period, these powerful stories document a pattern of mistreatment and poor conditions experienced by those incarcerated in county jails while pretrial—innocent in the eyes of the law and awaiting their day in court.



Voices from Solitary: Pregnant in Prison, Birth in Shackles

Oct 31st, 2015
People in jail

In 2008, the federal Bureau of Prisons passed a policy prohibiting the use of restraints on women in custody who are in labor, delivery or postpartum recovery. In 2009, Texas passed a law banning the use of shackles on incarcerated pregnant women during labor, delivery and postpartum recovery. But, as both the ACLU of Texas and the Texas Jail Project have found, for women in the state’s prisons, mental hospitals, and county jails, the law has not always been put into practice.



Expecting Care: The shameful truth about how pregnant women are treated in Texas county jails

Aug 19th, 2015
Illustration of woman in jail

Outside of the lockups, few know how pregnant women are treated. But for years, Diana Claitor, co-founder and director of the Texas Jail Project, has been trying to get a glimpse inside. Her approach is to work with inmates and families to navigate the system, instructing them on how to file complaints and get help when they need it. In the process, she’s learned a lot about how jails fail pregnant women.

One of the first calls Claitor remembers came in 2007 from a woman whose daughter had miscarried while in jail. She asked Claitor how she could recover the body of her grandchild.

“It was so sad and such a desperate outreach from an older woman who knew of no one to go to,” Claitor said. As word of her organization spread online, she began hearing from more and more women—an outpouring that is reflected in recent data.



Widespread abuse of pregnant inmates

Aug 1st, 2015
Hands on bars

At Texas Jail Project, we’ve always been disheartened by jail staff and officials who automatically assume that all complaints coming from a pregnant woman—or from any prisoner for that matter—are lies. As the authors of this interesting series state: "This notion—that prisoners, and especially women prisoners, are liars—permeates the dozens of cases we reviewed where prisoners suffered miscarriages, still-births, and even deaths."

They take a clear-eyed look at this negative attitude that shapes so much of the treatment of women. The stories are moving, the research solid, and their reporting reveals previously unknown forms of abuse, such as the Chicago jail’s practice of forcing women who are close to term to have induced labor.

In the course of their five-month investigation, RH Reality Check authors spoke with TJP’s director several times, and we are pleased to see their references to Texas Jail Project’s efforts on behalf of Texas women.



When do you call on the feds to investigate?

Jan 10th, 2015

“”The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, created in 1957 by the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, works to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans, particularly some of the most vulnerable members of our society.”
We believe that those “vulnerable members” include people in Texas county jails. Especially in those counties where we hear from numerous familes begging for help for loved ones: sons abused by other prisoners and guards, pregnant daughters losing weight and needing care, veterans with mental illness locked in solitary, geriatric parents needing medical care. That’s when you call on the DOJ.



Helping the pregnant women in our jails

Nov 26th, 2014

A new coalition is in town: Texas Jail Project, Mama Sana/Vibrant Women along with ACLU of Texas and Amnesty International. You are welcome to join in—we need all the help we can get—because it will take a concerted effort to move the Texas Commission on Jail Standards and county sheriffs to make changes in the way they care for pregnant inmates in county jails.
In this San Antonio Current article, Alexa Garcia-Ditta provides outstanding writing on this complex subject. She leads with the story of 29-year-old Shela Williams, who was incarcerated in the Travis County Jail during a high-risk pregnancy. Her baby Israel died, and Shela wasn’t allowed to attend his funeral. She shares her painful story, to raise awareness of the need for better health care for pregnant women in local jails.



How do Texas county jails treat pregnant inmates?

Aug 23rd, 2014

In May, a woman named Nicole Guerrero filed a lawsuit against the Wichita County Jail for ignoring her when she was in labor. Locked alone in a cell, Nicole gave birth on a mat on the floor to a premature baby who died.What’s going on in Texas? Jails in the state are endangering pregnant women and their fetuses, despite the state’s professed interest in “unborn babies.”

In July, a woman named Jessica De Samito in the Guadalupe County Jail worried she might face a similar fate. Jail officials were noncommittal about giving Jessica the methadone she needs to keep from going into sudden withdrawal – a physically draining process that can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth.