State Reps. Tina Davis (D-Bucks) and Morgan Cephas (D-Phila) applauded the recent House passage of their bill that would regulate how pregnant people are treated in Pennsylvania’s jails and prisons. The bill is now on its way to the Senate.
The Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act, which passed unanimously, would improve visitation rights for incarcerated parents, ban shackling pregnant people and enhance restraint documentation, along with other provisions.
“For years, my peers and I have been fighting to get prenatal, pregnancy and post-natal support to those incarcerated in the commonwealth. The House passage of this act lifts my soul because it is an act of compassion,” Cephas said. “This legislation (H.B. 1419) would improve the quality of life for some of our most vulnerable constituents and their families. No one should be deprived of respect or be forced to risk their health or the health of their child — and certainly not on our watch.”
The bill also would provide for free period and incontinence products for incarcerated individuals and would allow three days of post-delivery bonding time between mother and newborn child.
“Boundaries need to be set on how pregnant women are treated in prison,” Davis said. “For far too long, incarcerated pregnant women have been subject to shackling, solitary confinement, full body searches by male guards and been denied bonding time with their babies after birth. The impact of this treatment has been devastating for pregnant women and their infants. This bill would help ensure that pregnant women in our prisons are treated with the dignity which is rightfully theirs.”
Cephas added, “The bill would also require the implementation of trauma-informed practices and documentation from all corrections officers interacting with pregnant and postpartum women. Advancing this legislation is essential because we urgently need these reforms; we must reestablish humanity behind bars.”