“Pregnant and Going to Jail” was written by Carlos A. Gamino, a former Milwaukee criminal defense attorney who has experience working with expectant mothers who are charged with crimes.
Last year, the National Advocates for Pregnant Women released a study that showed more than 400 pregnant women across the country were forced into drug treatment programs between 1973 and 2005.
Just after that study came out, a pregnant Wisconsin woman disclosed her medical history to a physician’s assistant, which included past painkiller abuse and the past use of a prescription medication, Suboxone, designed to help people overcome opiate dependence. She was completely clean and tested negative for drug use at that time.
Two weeks later, social workers showed up at her home and demanded that she start taking Suboxone again… despite the fact that she was clean.
Two days after that, police arrested the woman in her home. Despite the fact that she and her baby were found healthy after a forced physical exam, a judge ordered her to spend 90 days in a drug treatment center.
Does that make you angry?
Pregnant and Going to Jail
While this is far from an isolated incident, many expectant women are sentenced to jail time in Wisconsin. In fact, the American Journal of Public Health says that between 6 and 10 percent of women who are incarcerated are pregnant.
The good news? Some jails have to offer pregnancy and childbirth classes, and all of them are required to provide prenatal care.
The bad news? Family and friends can’t be there for the delivery. Women who deliver babies while incarcerated are monitored by guards during the whole process, and most are handcuffed as little as a half-hour after delivery. Some states require that women are shackled to the bed during delivery, too, but fortunately, Wisconsin forbids it except during extreme circumstances.
If you’re pregnant and you’ve been accused of committing a crime, it’s absolutely necessary that you work with a Milwaukee criminal defense lawyer who can help protect your – and your baby’s – rights.