The bill ensures protections for pregnant incarcerated women and their babies
Tallahassee, FL — Today, the Tammy Jackson Act (SB 852, titled Restrictive Housing for Incarcerated Pregnant Women) by Senator Jason Pizzo (D-West Park) passed the Florida Senate. With newly amended language, the bill now needs one final House vote before being sent to the Governor’s desk. On the House side, HB 1259 was co-introduced by Representatives Shevrin Jones (D-West Park) and Amy Mercado (D-Orlando) and the bill has passed unanimously in all committees and both chambers.
The Tammy Jackson Act ensures that pregnant incarcerated women are transported to an appropriate medical facility without delay, given proper medical care, and not placed in restrictive housing involuntarily while in labor. The legislation also sets critical standards for the treatment of pregnant incarcerated women by aiming to create a safer, more respectful environment for women behind bars.
The Dignity Coalition, a grassroots effort led by formerly incarcerated women and supported by several community organizations in Florida, works to advance the rights of incarcerated women and girls in Florida. Just last year, the Coalition won the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act, a bill to ensure that incarcerated women have access to hygiene products. Passing the Tammy Jackson Act was a team effort, led in large part by Valencia Gunder, a community activist and formerly incarcerated woman herself who also serves as Campaign Manager for Dignity Florida.
“We now need the Florida House to act one more time with a final vote, to send this bill to the Governor’s desk and do right by our incarcerated women and babies,” said Valencia Gunder, Campaign Director for Dignity Florida and the New Florida Majority. “Our women are more than prisoners; they are mothers, nurturers, and caregivers and it is time they are treated as such, with dignity, respect, and humanity. The future is female, she’s strong, she’s Black, she’s Brown and she will not be incarcerated.”
No pregnant woman should ever be put in solitary confinement; it is inhumane, unsafe and cruel, both for the mother and her child. Currently, Florida has the second-highest incarceration rate for women in the United States, and yet, women’s basic needs and rights are not being met or respected. Ensuring that incarcerated people, including those who are pregnant, are safe, healthy and treated with dignity, especially during labor, is the responsibility of the state.