Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers(CLAIM) CBA Legal Aid Committee Women Prisoners and their Children
Incarcerated Mothers Between 1977 and 2007, the women’s prison population in the U.S. grew by 832%. As of 2011, 2,844 women were in Illinois prisons. Most women prisoners had sole responsibility for their children prior to arrest. 80-85% are mothers About 80% are sentenced for non-violent offenses.
Legal impact of separation Legal guardianship: Short-term guardianship Court-ordered guardianship Difficulties in enforcing visitation rights Barriers to family reunification
Legal impact of separation Foster Care: Adoption and Safe Families Act • If foster care 15 of 22 months, move to terminate parental rights • Exceptions may apply Illinois grounds for Termination of Parental Rights – Show reasonable efforts, reasonable progress within 9 months of wardship - incarceration-related grounds Youth aging out of the system PA 96-0600 In re Dar. C. – publication notice Lack of Reunification Services Efforts in other states to slow timeline in appropriate cases Sibling visits under PA 97-1076
Legal impact of separation Domestic Relations: Standing Modification of custody
Shackling Pregnant Inmates Risks of shackling during pregnancy: • Increased risk of falls • Leg irons increase the risk of blood clots during pregnancy. • Physical pain; metal cuffs. Restricting movement is inherently painful. Stress affects the fetus and can induce premature labor. • During labor, women must be unrestrained to allow monitoring for umbilical cord prolapse, which can cause brain injury to the infant. • Women must be unrestrained and ambulatory post-partum to reduce risk of blood clots and alleviate discomfort. • Handcuffs applied post-partum impede the mother’s handling of her newborn. See Juana Villegas vs. Metropolitan Government of Davidson County/Nashville Davidson County Sheriff’s Office, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45792; Nelson vs. Correctional Medical Services
Shackling Pregnant Inmates Illinois became the first state to ban shackles during labor (PA 91-0253) a narrow ban which passed unanimously in 2000. ~ Numerous violations by state and county corrections. ~ PA 097-0660 was signed into law January 13, 2012
Shackling Pregnant Inmates PA 097-0660 • Provides clear definitions • Protects pregnant women from chain belts and leg irons throughout pregnancy and post-partum until release from the hospital. • Permits exceptions only where there is an imminent risk of escape or harm, or for psychiatric reasons when medically necessary. • Requires reporting. This is best practice for transparency and accountability. As amended, applies to Cook County only. ~ New IDOC administrative regulation extending protection to women throughout pregnancy and six weeks post-partum. ~ Downstate county jails are the next battle. Thirteen other states and the Federal Marshals have banned shackling.
Health care goals • Timely access to health care without fees. • Provide continuity of health/mental health care. • Provide a nutritional diet and follow American Dietetic Association pre-natal diet for pregnant women. • Implement the new administrative regulation ending use of restraints for pregnant and post-partum women, and provide training on the regulations to all officers and staff. • Allow mothers to bond with their newborn babies. Implement community release or family-based residential treatment when possible. Facilitate and insure mothers have solid placement plans for their newborns before they must be separated.
Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers (CLAIM) www.claim-il.org Facebook page: Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers Mission:CLAIM provides legal and educational services to maintain the bond between imprisoned mothers and their children. CLAIM advocates for policies and programs that benefit families of imprisoned mothers and reduce incarceration of women and girls.