RALEIGH, N.C. - Today, in a unanimous vote, the N.C. House gave final legislative approval to a bill that improves conditions for pregnant people who are incarcerated in jails and prisons in North Carolina. Joining similar legislation across the country, HB 608, “Dignity for Women Who Are Incarcerated,” limits the cruel practice of shackling people who are pregnant, bans the use of restraints during labor, and regulates the use of restrictive housing during pregnancy and the postpartum period.
HB 608 marks an imperative effort to comprehensively address incarcerated people’s needs during the perinatal period. It outlines nutritional provisions for those who are pregnant, ensures incarcerated people’s access to menstrual products, and expands opportunities for young children to visit and have physical contact with mothers who are incarcerated. Much more work is needed to humanely treat all parents who are incarcerated.
Kristie Puckett-Williams, the statewide Campaign for Smart Justice manager of the ACLU of North Carolina, issued the following statement after the final vote on HB 608:
“As long as there are prisons, people, especially Black and Brown people, will be vulnerable to dehumanizing treatment. However, the steps to addressing the harms of incarceration can and will be undone incrementally, and this legislation moves us closer to meeting the needs of all of our community members, including those who are incarcerated.
“So much work is needed to expose and undo the brutality of our jails and prisons, and it’s the same kind of work that went into this bill getting to this point. It is the same kind of work that SisterSong, Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective in North Carolina, RestoreHER, and many other organizations and individuals throughout the South have worked on for years. I’m excited for HB 608 to be signed into law and used to advocate for better treatment for people who are incarcerated.”