Video Announces Bipartisan Federal Legislation to Help Incarcerated Mothers and Babies

Syrita Bowen Press

U.S. Reps. Karen Bass (D-CA) and Mia Love (R-UT) Urge All Women in Congress to Co-Sponsor their Forthcoming Bill During Women Unshackled: The Next Step

AUSTIN, TX—Today the Justice Action Network released a new video featuring U.S. Reps. Mia Love (R-Utah) and Karen Bass (D-Calif.) discussing forthcoming bipartisan legislation that will protect the health and wellness of babies and pregnant women in federal custody. During the live-streamed video announcement, the Congresswomen express concerns about the exploding female prison population, and that women are entering prisons programmed for men, ill-equipped to meet the health needs of women. More specifically, they talk about eliminating shackling and solitary confinement for pregnant women behind bars, and ensuring adequate prenatal health care and nutrition. Reps. Love and Bass conclude the video by urging all 84 women in Congress to join them in co-sponsoring this bipartisan legislation.

Earlier this year, a Justice Action Network poll found that 86 percent of voters believe that shackling pregnant women should be prohibited. Despite widespread opposition, restraints and solitary confinement are still used on incarcerated women during pregnancy and labor. Medical experts agree these unsafe practices create a serious risk of mental and physical harm to both the mother and child.

Holly Harris, executive director of the Justice Action Network, applauded the leadership of Reps. Love and Bass on this issue: “These two women exemplify the leadership Washington sorely needs. Their courage to reach across the aisle, despite today’s bitter partisan environment, is a rare and refreshing reprieve to Americans who are desperate for real solutions to our country’s greatest problems. The number of women behind bars has exploded 700 percent since 1980, and one in four women entering our justice system is either pregnant or a mother to a child under the age of one. The vast majority of voters on the right and the left believe these women deserve humane treatment and adequate care, and we are grateful Reps. Bass and Love are stepping up to make sure that happens. We join them in urging all the women in Congress to co-sponsor this significant bipartisan legislation.” 

The video featuring the announcement was unveiled at Women Unshackled: The Next Step, organized by the Coalition for Public Safety and the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, which recently released a report on disturbing trends in female incarceration. The event featured prominent speakers from every corner of the justice system, including female lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, widely recognized policy experts, judges, law enforcement officials and formerly incarcerated women.

The Justice Action Network continues to advocate for common-sense, bipartisan legislation at the state and federal level to reform our broken criminal justice system. The organization has had success across the country, and continues to support groups on the right and the left to secure legislation this Congress.

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