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house Bill H.R. 7718

Should a National Standard of Care be Established for Pregnant & Postpartum Women in Federal Prisons?

Argument in favor

All women, including incarcerated women, deserve appropriate pregnancy and postpartum care. Unfortunately, while there have been efforts to reform pregnancy care in prisons at the federal level, these reforms are not sufficiently detailed and haven’t made their way into most penitentiaries. This legislation would enact a detailed standard of care for incarcerated pregnant women in federal prisons and incentivize states to adopt similar standards.

jimK's Opinion
···
10/01/2020
If our country imprisons someone/anyone as a punishment for a crime, their health becomes our country’s responsibility- since they have no ability nor opportunity to make their own arraignments for proper care. If the people of this country do not want to support this, then change the outrageous penal system that imprisons someone for years for minor crimes like selling marijuana yet commutes Roger Stone’s sentencing because he is in his seventies despite being convicted of something like eight serious felonies, witness tampering and threatening both the judge and jury chairperson. We have huge financial crimes which caused much more harm to much more people where no-one gets imprisoned because they can pay a fine which is a pittance compared to the crime committed. The AGI too big to fail scandal that rippled through the country, causing businesses to collapse and lives to be destroyed was caused by investment firms knowingly pushing junk bonds out the door with greedy companies such as AGI hoping to benefit and investment firms on the other side of these derivative investments quietly pocketing the other side of the junk that they sold- all of the AGI losses that the taxpayers had to loan funds to cover, all of those losses went straight into the pockets of the Investment firms and their employees - despite the fact that they caused the problem in the first place. No criminal charges or even any fines - just regulations to prevent these abuses from happening again, which our ‘concerned’ trumpublicans have been rolling back bit by bit ever since. … … …So do not complain about meeting the healthcare needs of anyone in our Federal, State or local custody until the justice systems treats everyone with the same level of ‘justice’.
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Brian's Opinion
···
10/01/2020
Yes. In the country with the most incarcerated people in the whole world, how can we not have a minimum standard of good care for women's health? I have a lot of issues with the incarceration of women, but nothing should keep a woman from being able to receive comprehensive healthcare, before, during and after a pregnancy. If there are already standards and they are not helping, then we need to examine ways to improve them. Babies born in prison should not be punished, and neither should their mothers.
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Hillary's Opinion
···
10/01/2020
IF prisons are really "rehabilitative" then they are not punitive and have no right to harm or at least not help the unborn or newly born children of prisoners. We all have better lives when everyone is given a chance to live a healthy life.
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Argument opposed

Incarcerated pregnant women’s rights to proper care are already protected under the Eighth Amendment, so the means for ensuring proper pregnancy and postnatal care in penitentiaries already exists without this legislation. Rather than passing new legislation and adding to the complex regulations governing U.S. prison policy, it would be more effective to use Eighth Amendment protections to ensure appropriate care for incarcerated pregnant women.

Lane's Opinion
···
10/01/2020
While we can't even get care for citizens who lawfully pay more than they can afford for to Obama care? No! Obama forced us to pay horrendous amounts so he could give health care free to criminals and illegals to earn their votes. He drained the hard work of the average citizen. My mom is in terrible pain and pays 900 a month for health issuance that covers none of her treatments! So no! Fix what Obama has done to the tax payer before helping more criminals.
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B.R.'s Opinion
···
10/01/2020
While I do support the effort to further define the Eight Amendment as it relates to this issue, I do not support this bill as written. For starts, the section on Legal Recourse should require individual to pursue administrative remedies prior to a suit. If the internal procedure does not work, then the effort should be to fix it rather than dismiss it. Additionally, when such a change is recommended, it (the bill) should require data to prove that the change is warranted. Secondly, I do not support incenting the states to implement. I rather see the standards set and process in place to evaluate the compliance with the standards.
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Ronald's Opinion
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10/02/2020
No. Going to Prison must not be profitable for felons, of either gender.
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What is House Bill H.R. 7718?

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.


Data Collection

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.

Impact

Incarcerated pregnant women; pregnancy and postnatal care for incarcerated pregnant women; federal prisons; state prisons; and local jails.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 7718

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that this bill would increase the number of suits, some of which would result in settlements paid from the Judgment Fund, that inmates file against the Bureau of Prisons. However, while the number and magnitude of those settlements is uncertain, the CBO estimates that payments from the fund will be insignificant in any year.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) introduced this legislation to provide a national standard of care to address pregnancy-related needs of incarcerated women during pregnancy, labor, delivery and post-partum periods:

“Our prison system was not created with women in mind and as a result continually fails to provide basic necessities to tens of thousands of individuals who are incarcerated every single day. Especially amid a pandemic, it is incumbent upon Congress to ensure that we are not inadvertently matching petty crimes with death sentences. I’m proud to be introducing this bipartisan bill to make sure that we are mindful and responsible for the health and wellness of pregnant women in prison. That means an appropriate diet, it means access to appropriate medical assistance, and it certainly means stopping the shackling of pregnant inmates. Although it’s beyond the scope of this bill, it is important that we not normalize the incarceration of pregnant women. In fact, we should examine whether incarcerating pregnant women at all is the best way to address public safety.”

Lead Republican cosponsor Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) adds:

“I’m proud to join Reps. Bass, Lesko, and Clark in introducing this bipartisan legislation to protect the health and wellness of pregnant and postpartum women in prison. By providing incarcerated women with access to pregnancy-related health care and services, we can ensure better outcomes for both mothers and babies. I look forward to advancing the Pregnant Women in Custody Act and urge my colleagues to support this commonsense legislation.”

Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) supports this legislation:

“This bill would restore dignity and respect to women prisoners during childbirth, one of the most vulnerable moments in a persons’ life, by severely limiting the use of restraints and restrictive housing on women who are pregnant, in labor, or in postpartum recovery while also improving standards of healthcare for this population.”

This legislation passed the House Judiciary Committee with the support of 35 bipartisan cosponsors, including 29 Democrats and six Republicans. 

Last Congress, Rep. Bass introduced this legislation with the support of 84 bipartisan House cosponsors, including 67 Democrats and 17 Republicans, and it didn’t receive a committee vote. Its Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) with one cosponsor, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), also didn’t receive a vote.


Of NoteIn a July 2019 hearing, the House Judiciary Committee on Crime held a hearing examining the unique ways in which women become trapped in the U.S. prison system, abuse faced by incarcerated women, and the challenges that women face after release.

According to the ACLU, the shackling of pregnant prisoners and over-incarceration of pregnant women are issues of major concern. The ACLU says, “Unfortunately, shackling pregnant women during active labor and childbirth is all too common in our nation’s prisons and jails.” 

In 2002, the most recent year for which data is available, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) found that 5% of women in local jails were pregnant when admitted, 4% of women in state prisons were pregnant upon admission, and 3% of women in federal prisons were pregnant upon admission. These numbers were roughly consistent with data from a 2017 study of 22 U.S. state prison systems and all U.S. federal prisons conducted by the American Journal of Public Health. That study found 470 pregnant federal prisoners, comprising 3% of women in federal prisons; 3,950 pregnant state prisoners, comprising 4% of women in state prisons; and 5,060 pregnant local prisoners, comprising 5% of women in local jails.

Although all U.S. prisons and jails are required to provide prenatal care under the Eighth Amendment, no federal standards have been set to ensure that women actually receive the care they need. The ACLU contends that incarcerated women have constitutionally protected rights to obtain appropriate medical care that is often violated when they receive inadequate (or non-existent) pregnancy or postpartum care.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: Unsplash / Milad B. Fakurian)

AKA

Protecting the Health and Wellness of Babies and Pregnant Women in Custody Act

Official Title

To address the health needs of incarcerated women related to pregnancy and childbirth, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
    IntroducedJuly 22nd, 2020
    If our country imprisons someone/anyone as a punishment for a crime, their health becomes our country’s responsibility- since they have no ability nor opportunity to make their own arraignments for proper care. If the people of this country do not want to support this, then change the outrageous penal system that imprisons someone for years for minor crimes like selling marijuana yet commutes Roger Stone’s sentencing because he is in his seventies despite being convicted of something like eight serious felonies, witness tampering and threatening both the judge and jury chairperson. We have huge financial crimes which caused much more harm to much more people where no-one gets imprisoned because they can pay a fine which is a pittance compared to the crime committed. The AGI too big to fail scandal that rippled through the country, causing businesses to collapse and lives to be destroyed was caused by investment firms knowingly pushing junk bonds out the door with greedy companies such as AGI hoping to benefit and investment firms on the other side of these derivative investments quietly pocketing the other side of the junk that they sold- all of the AGI losses that the taxpayers had to loan funds to cover, all of those losses went straight into the pockets of the Investment firms and their employees - despite the fact that they caused the problem in the first place. No criminal charges or even any fines - just regulations to prevent these abuses from happening again, which our ‘concerned’ trumpublicans have been rolling back bit by bit ever since. … … …So do not complain about meeting the healthcare needs of anyone in our Federal, State or local custody until the justice systems treats everyone with the same level of ‘justice’.
    Like (19)
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    Yes. In the country with the most incarcerated people in the whole world, how can we not have a minimum standard of good care for women's health? I have a lot of issues with the incarceration of women, but nothing should keep a woman from being able to receive comprehensive healthcare, before, during and after a pregnancy. If there are already standards and they are not helping, then we need to examine ways to improve them. Babies born in prison should not be punished, and neither should their mothers.
    Like (17)
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    IF prisons are really "rehabilitative" then they are not punitive and have no right to harm or at least not help the unborn or newly born children of prisoners. We all have better lives when everyone is given a chance to live a healthy life.
    Like (11)
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    Of course!
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    Representatives, Vote in approval of HR 7718, the Protecting the Health and Wellness of Babies and Pregnant Women in Custody Act. Establish a national standard of care, data collection, and training and technical assistance for pregnant women in federal prisons.
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    Standardization of all medical care for all incarcerated people is just and necessary to provide proper healthcare across the nation. Private Prisons included.
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    Where are the so call pro-life, the so called religious organizations, the so call racist bigot hypocrite, I know, they are the ones that are saying NO on women’s rights and healthcare!
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    You mean it HASN'T been?!.....Seriously....what is WRONG with people?
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    Medical should be the same no matter if you in bondage or free. Especially for those who are pro-life, should be advocating for the unborn. It is not the fault of the unborn. Take care of the mom so the child has a chance. It is sad, but this is the reality. This is parallel to pre existing conditions and in which they are fighting to end for these vulnerable people who do pay into the system. Think..it could be you or someone in your family or close to you. I dont remember the bible saying we desecrate the poor, the unfortunate, but help them.
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    We shouldn't be locking up so many people. But if we do, we should treat them like human beings.
    Like (3)
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    While we can't even get care for citizens who lawfully pay more than they can afford for to Obama care? No! Obama forced us to pay horrendous amounts so he could give health care free to criminals and illegals to earn their votes. He drained the hard work of the average citizen. My mom is in terrible pain and pays 900 a month for health issuance that covers none of her treatments! So no! Fix what Obama has done to the tax payer before helping more criminals.
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    Show that you’re really pro-life
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    While I do support the effort to further define the Eight Amendment as it relates to this issue, I do not support this bill as written. For starts, the section on Legal Recourse should require individual to pursue administrative remedies prior to a suit. If the internal procedure does not work, then the effort should be to fix it rather than dismiss it. Additionally, when such a change is recommended, it (the bill) should require data to prove that the change is warranted. Secondly, I do not support incenting the states to implement. I rather see the standards set and process in place to evaluate the compliance with the standards.
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    Sad that these measures have to be taken in the 21st century. But ALL women and their children should be given proper care.
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    Why shouldn’t there be? Standards need to be set and met by the government to ensure pregnant women are being properly and ethically taken care of. No woman should be worrying about their pregnancy, regardless of their social, economic, or legal statuses.
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    Good Healthcare should be a right and not a privilege. I support this bill to improve the care of pregnant women in prison.
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    Definitely love this bill! Yes ! Must be bipartisan!
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    No. Going to Prison must not be profitable for felons, of either gender.
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    No, the legislation for prenatal and postnatal care already exists and does not need to be duplicated. This sounds like the measure of care needs to be enforced better than duplicating it and throwing more money at it. I would think with legislation already there that money has or would be allocated but either it has not been used for what it was intended for or legislators have misspent the money as they have done with other funds. No! This legislation should not be duplicated. Noting that a Democrat has proposed this tells me all I need to know.
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    Really
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