A coalition of campaigners and health experts is calling for an urgent review into the sentencing of pregnant female offenders, warning of the increased risk of adverse outcomes to babies born in custody.
An open letter to Brandon Lewis, the justice secretary, and the Sentencing Council for England and Wales warns that pregnant women in jail suffer severe stress and highlights evidence suggesting they are more likely to have a stillbirth. The signatories include the Royal College of Midwives and Liberty.
The letter states: “Research into the experiences of pregnant women in English prisons found that [they] were unable to access basic comfort, adequate nutrition or fresh air, and that the fear of potential separation from their baby or shame of being made an incarcerated mother was debilitating.”
Women represent less than 5% of the total prison population, with about 3,200 in jail in England and Wales. The government