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Prison will never be a safe place to be pregnant. In the last two years, two babies born inside prison have died. Even if the worst doesn't happen, prison causes toxic stress and trauma to both mother and child. Short sentences can have a long-lasting, lifelong negative impact.

The government can and must put an end to imprisoning pregnant women and new mothers by changing bail and sentencing laws. Right now, there is no statutory duty for judges to take pregnancy or parenthood into consideration when making sentencing or bail decisions. This has to change. The law needs to be strengthened so that judges legally have to consider the health of pregnant women and their babies, and avoid sending them to prison at all costs.

Why is this important?

In the last two years, two pregnant women have given birth inside UK prisons and their babies have died. Prison will never be a safe place for pregnant women and new mothers. But every year, pregnant women are detained and give birth in UK prisons, and 1 in 10 give birth in their cell or on the way to hospital.*

Even if the worst doesn't happen, toxic stress during a mother's pregnancy affects her baby's development. Prisons are extremely stressful and traumatising environments that negatively impact your mental and physical health – and if you're pregnant, the impact on you and your child is long-lasting.

The majority of women enter prison for sentences of six months or less – which is enough time to lose your home, job and be totally cut off from your family and support networks. When a woman is supported in her community, she is able to tackle the issues that swept her up into crime in the first place. In her community, she’s able to get support to give her child the best start in life, including easy access to antenatal and postnatal healthcare.

*This figure comes from a 2020 Nuffield Health research report: Locked out? Prisoners' use of hospital care in England and Wales.

Prison is not a safe place for pregnant women. The whole time I was there, I felt worried about my health and the health of my baby. From sleeping on a paper thin mattress with the metal frame hurting my hip bones, to no adequate nutritional food or supplements besides a pot of folic acid, it was inhumane. I was taken to my first baby scan in handcuffs.

— Olivia
Levelup Campaign
Levelup Campaign
Levelup Campaign

Pregnant women need the support of their family and community both mentally and physically for a safe pregnancy and birth. If women are giving birth inside prison and their babies are dying, judges cannot continue sentencing women to prison. It’s not safe.”

— Olivia

Discover the

Campaign
Letter to
Secretary of State for Justice, Alex Chalk MP

PRISON WILL NEVER BE A SAFE PLACE FOR PREGNANT WOMEN AND NEW MOTHERS.

1 in 10 women give birth inside their cell or on the way to hospital*, and in the last two years, two babies born inside prison have died. Even if the worst doesn't happen, prison causes toxic stress and trauma to both mother and child. Short sentences can have a long-lasting, lifelong negative impact.

The government can and must put an end to imprisoning pregnant women and new mothers by changing sentencing laws. Right now, there is no statutory duty for judges to take pregnancy or parenthood into consideration when sentencing. This has to change. The law needs to be strengthened so that judges legally have to consider the health of pregnant women and their babies, and avoid sending them to prison at all costs

Updates

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levelUp
levelUp
Started this petition 3 years ago

2,816 Comments

Revd Kate Gray
Revd Kate Gray

I am signing because our church, The Dandelion Community, is local to Styal Women’s Prison and we want to find ways to support women and their babies who are in prison.

Rosanna Dias
Rosanna Dias

Life is so important

Anonymous
Anonymous

No baby should be born in prison. How can such a poor start ever lead to a positive outcome?

Marc McMorran
Marc McMorran

I feel for any kind born in jaiii

Stephanie Bowman
Stephanie Bowman

I was in jail for 1 of my pregnancies thank goodness I made it to the hospital and didn’t have her in my cell. It’s the worst thing to have a C.O. hold your leg while your having your baby and then having to leave her there while you go to back to jail is the worst thing in the world. Unless you kill somebody u should never be in jail pregnant it is definitely very cruel and inhumane.

Clair Poole
Clair Poole

This is wrong it needs to stop

Natallie Agyeomang-Mante
Natallie Agyeomang-Mante

Your not alone, I and my family will stand with you forever

Emma liddiard
Emma liddiard

No newborn deserves to be born in a prison. No mother should have to wonder if herself and baby is going to make it through labour alive.

Jan OFM
Jan OFM

Dear Level Up – if you haven’t already done so, please create this petition on https://petition.parliament.uk/ as the UK Government ONLY ACCEPT petitions via their own Petitions website….so all of your website petitions will not be counted. I have done a quick search and it doesn’t look like there are any ‘Stop sending pregnant women to prison’ petitions on the Gov UK Petitions website. It is critical to encourage UK signatories to sign a UK Government petition…if you reach 10,000 signatures this will force the UK Gov to issue a detailed written response. If you reach 100,000 signatures the UK Gov ‘will consider’ debating it in Westminster Hall…it is very rare and hard to reach 100,000 signatures BUT it is possible (only 150 petitions out of 47,000 petitions have ever reached 100,000 – one I was involved with DID make it through and was debated successfully) so I strongly encourage your organisation to submit your petition to the UK Gov Petitions page, it is easy to do so AND the Petitions teams are really helpful. Good Luck and I will be receiving updates and would actively sign your UK Gov Petition as soon as it is ‘live’ as this abuse of pregnant women and babies has to stop NOW.

Monique Bucknet
Monique Bucknet

We are in the Dark Ages if pregnant women are licked up instead of supported with their issues. Babies are taken away from them which traumatised both. Prison is unsafe for pregnant women and their unborn babies.

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