Petition to Dominic Raab MP

Stop sending pregnant women to prison

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.

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
October 29, 2021
Letter to
Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab 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

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Started this petition 11 months ago

2,810 Comments

Anonymous
Anonymous

Prison is not a safe place for pregnant women and babies

Rachel Warby
Rachel Warby

I’m a supporter of women’s rights to have safe and comfortable births and for newborns to start their lives in an environment which supports their development!

Yasmin Smith
Yasmin Smith

No babies should die die in prison

vicki turner
vicki turner

justice is not fairness to a vulnerable pregnant woman

Virginia Williams
Virginia Williams

I am signing because abortion rights are health are rights – my body, my right to choose.

Simon Foy
Simon Foy

I believe that that this is the best for the children as much as the mothers. We just need to do something that works – even if we don’t see any immediate benefit. Politicians need to stop doing everything which is just about the here and now – and for once think of their greater and longer term responsibility.

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

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