This bill, known as the Protecting the Health and Wellness of Babies and Pregnant Women in Custody Act, would establish a national standard of care, data collection, and training and technical assistance for pregnant women in federal prisons. A breakdown of its various provisions can be found below.
Addressing Incarcerated Women’s Pregnancy and Childbirth Needs
To address pregnant women in federal prisons’ needs, this bill would:
- Establish minimum standards for healthcare for pregnant women, fetuses and newborns in federal custody;
- Prohibit the use of restraints on and restrictive housing for federal prisoners who are pregnant or eight or fewer weeks post-partum; and
- Require reporting on the use of restraints and restrictive housing on any inmate when she is pregnant, in labor, or recovering from childbirth to the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) agency director, who would be required to submit a summary of these reports to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees on an annual basis.
Training and Technical Assistance
To help ensure that state, local, and federal prisons comply with standards established in this bill, this legislation would:
- Require DOJ, in consultation with healthcare professionals, to develop training programs and guidelines for federal correctional officers and U.S. marshals; and
- Direct the DOJ, in consultation with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, to fund training and technical assistance to state and local corrections and law enforcement agencies to ensure that restraints and restrictive housing are used in accordance with state laws.
Incentives for States
To encourage states to adopt minimum standards of care for pregnant or postpartum inmates in their custody, this bill would:
- Provide competitive grant funding to states with laws addressing the treatment of incarcerated women that the Attorney General (AG) determines to meet or exceed federal standards established in this legislation; and
- Give states that have enacted or implemented services or pilot programs addressing incarcerated pregnant women’s needs preference in grant funding.
This bill would require DOJ to collect data on women’s mental and physical health in federal, state, tribal, and local corrections. This data collection would focus on pregnancy and the postpartum period.
Legal Recourse for Pregnant Inmates
Finally, this bill would allow pregnant women in federal custody to file suit in federal court for grievances concerning prison concerns without exhausting administrative remedies first.