|women in prison
||[Jun. 14th, 2005|12:22 pm]
Prenatal care for prisoners is often delayed and inadequate when finally provided, especially for high-risk conditions. Pregnant women are transported to the hospital in restraints in all stages of labor and are shackled to their hospital beds, including at times during delivery. All of this jeopardizes two lives, as the many miscarriages and stillbirths suffered by women prisoners attest.|
Of the 161,483 prisoners now in California state prisons, 10,708, or 6.63%, are women. Yet it is only in the last decade that the number of women in California prisons has grown to such levels. Women's concerns, therefore, have often been ignored in a system designed and historically operated for the 90% or more of the prison population who are men.
Reports in recent years describe health conditions for women prisoners in Chowchilla, where the two largest women's prisons are located, as a "horrifying." In a one-month period in December 2000, seven women died at a single one of these prisons.
Approximately 7 % of women incarcerated in California state prisons are pregnant.
One case of a high-risk pregnant woman shackled around the waist throughout entire journey from San Diego to Chowchilla in 2001.
The ACOG [American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists] Standards Should Be Adopted and Shackling Pregnant Women Must Be Banned.
While the Policies and Procedures address medical evaluations after assault, conspicuously omitted are sexual assaults. The September 2000 study found that the greatest number of medical complaints at VSPW [Valley State Prison for Women] involved sexual assaults, defined as including verbal harassment as well as physical harassment by guards and medical staff. "[i]t was also alleged that women in the [Segregated Housing] Units live in constant fear of rape".
Missed medications is at the top of women prisoners' health care complaints, with nearly 22% of women prisoners in a recent study reporting that they had missed important medications at least once and many reporting missing them repeatedly. Of those who missed medications, 21.6% suffered health complications as a direct result.
When diagnostic test results are deemed "clinically significant," the Policies and Procedures require that the prisoner be informed about the results by the primary care provider at a follow up appointment within a clinically appropriate timeframe. But when the results are not "clinically significant," there is no timeframe for notification. Yet all test results, whether positive or negative, are clinically significant: that's the purpose of diagnostic testing. Not knowing the results can create severe anxiety, as, for example, when a woman prisoner has been biopsied for breast cancer. A reasonable timeframe, e.g., 14 days, for notice of test results not requiring a follow up appointment should be added.
The Madera County Coroner refuses to perform autopsies if the decedent was HIV positive. [regardless of the fact that her cause of death may not have been HIV-related]
For over 13% of the women, the care provided by the medical staff was harmful to their health, sometimes very seriously, resulting in disability or even death.
[emphasis my own]