Beverly Henry is a formerly incarcerated women prisoner that has spent many years in the system. She recounts her time in the prison system and the things she had to see that occurred there. A memory that she shared with Huffington Post talks about what happened when “one woman had liver disease, with eyes “yellow as a warning sign” and two tampons stuck up her nose to stem the bleeding that poured from every orifice. Henry brought her to the prison’s clinic where, she said, the two were told to return to work. Within a week, the woman was dead” (Gottesdiener, 2011). This is a glimpse at the brutality and the loss of rights that prisoners have to go through in the prison system. This was not a small occurrence that the guards can overlook.The woman was clearly in terrible health and the fact that it was overlooked is sickening. If
this had happened outside of jail, there would be an outrage and it probably wouldn’t have happened in the first place. Since these women are in prison, it was overlooked and no one batted an eye because to many, these people “deserved” this fate. Henry also talks about the unfair treatment by guards as “guards have sex and women are harassed by the guards,” said Henry. “Women get pregnant; babies are born: These things happen here and the guards are responsible” (Gottesdiener, 2011). This is extremely sickening as this is crossing a very big line. These guards are supposed to be the responsible ones that protect these women yet they are crossing the line. Henry describes this as a regular occurrence which makes me wonder why there aren’t any consequences in place. Pregnancy is not something that can be hidden and people must have noticed. The fact that people are aware of this issue and nothing is being done is very incorrect.
When mothers are separated from their children, it causes pain and anguish for both the mother and child. Parents play a great role in shaping their kids’ lives and not being able to be there for the other present massive problems. Huffington Post reports that “children of incarcerated parents can struggle with a range of issues that include poverty, poor grades, behavioral issues, and depression” (Bellware, 2016). This shows how the separation doesn’t only hurt the mother. These children have never committed a mistake in their lives. For them to have to go through this because of a flawed penal system and the mistakes of their parents is extremely wrong. This separation also goes against the rights of the prisoners themselves because they have the right to be present in their children’s lives. When it is time for them to come out and their children blame them for being in jail and not active in their lives, it causes issues for the mothers as even in the outside, they are not accepted. When the children are born, they develop an attachment. There are three types of attachment: secure, ambivalent, and avoidant. Children who develop a secure bond tend to do better in the future. This demonstrates how important it is that the mother is with the child as it is growing up and how separating them causes disadvantages to both mother and child.
Pregnancy and labor are arguably one of the most painful things women have to endure. It often requires many medical precautions and procedures and the emotions that surround a person as they’re giving birth is a whirlwind. The last thing that women prisoners want when they’re in labor is to be shackled, but unfortunately, this is a reality in many places. Even though this practice is technically illegal in many states in the United States, the practice still occurs. For example, an article in the Guardian elaborates on how “the Correctional Association interviewed over 950 women in prison, including 27 who gave birth after the anti-
shackling law went into effect. Nearly half had been shackled while being transported to the hospital to give birth, and nearly all had been shackled at some point in their pregnancy” (Law, 2015). This shows how even with a law in place, this practice is still prevalent. Shackling is an immoral thing to do when someone is giving birth, but the dismissive nature of the way prisons treat their pregnant prisoners doesn’t
end there. The Guardian explains how “more than half of the women who spoke with the Correctional Association had similar experiences of nurses dismissing their symptoms or conducting superficial exams when they reported being in labor” (Law, 2015). This is one of the major problems when discussing childbirth as their cries for help aren’t taken seriously. If someone didn’t heed what the prisoner was saying and they had to deliver the child by themselves, that would be a massive problem as proper medical care is best for a safe delivery for both child and mother. This can cause either the child or mother to be gravely injured, going against the basic rights of the prisoner as a person and woman.