One in four women in prison, jail, or immigrant detention is either pregnant or has given birth in the previous year, according to a newly published interview.
Erica Gerrity, the founder of Ostara Initiative, a new nationwide initiative that pairs expecting mothers, who are incarcerated with childbirth supporters, noted in the interview that prison created a “hostile” environment for pregnant women.
“Prisons often do not accommodate for pregnancy or women as mothers … they’re in facilities designed by men, for men,” Gerrity said in the interview titled The Drama of Pregnant Women in Prison published in Forbes last month..
Gerrity revealed that ever since the opioid crisis hit the US, the number of female inmates had risen by 700%.
“In 1980 it was 13,000 women. Now it’s more than 250,000,” she said, adding, “This makes women the fastest growing segment in our criminal justice system.”
In the interview, Gerrity went on to warn about the dangers of incarceration of pregnant women who were drug addicts. “Judges use incarceration as a tool to stop drug use in pregnancy, but in many facilities harmful and even illegal substances are available, and chemical abuse during pregnancy is not uncommon.”
She also warned about separating the newborn child from the mother. “One to three days following delivery, the baby is taken from the mother … often not knowing when or if she will see the child again. Gerrity said after mother and child are separated, the mother is checked for depression.