How many more babies must die before England stops jailing pregnant women? | Rona Epstein

There is always an alternative to a custodial sentence. No court decision should endanger the life of an unborn child

In the past three years, two babies born inside English prisons have died. In September 2019, a woman, now known as Ms A, gave birth alone in her cell at HMP Bronzefield and the baby died. In July 2020, a baby was stillborn at HMP Styal. Prison will never be a safe place for pregnant women, so why are our courts still sending them there?

Geraldine Brown, Maria Garcia de Frutos and I set about trying to answer that question. Our research into pregnancy in English prisons (there are no women’s prisons in Wales), published this week, has convinced me that imprisoning pregnant women is disproportionate, cruel and simply unnecessary.

Rona Epstein is an honorary research fellow at Coventry Law School

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