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Ban on solitary confinement for pregnant inmates clears Senate

The amended bill will now head back to the House for approval.

A House bill (HB 1259) banning “restrictive housing” for pregnant inmates passed the Senate 37-0 Thursday.

In the House, the bill passed unanimously, and was sponsored by Reps. Shevrin Jones and Amy Mercado.

The House will have to take up the measure one more time, as amendments were added by Senate companion bill sponsor Sen. Jason Pizzo.

The measure is called the “Tammy Jackson Act.” It’s named after a prisoner who gave birth last year after being placed in an isolated jail cell in Broward County.

Jackson said she complained of contractions overnight. Seven hours later, she delivered the child without being taken to the hospital.

Pizzo carried the bill last year, which includes provisions to protect pregnant women from invasive searches after a Senate amendment.

The bill offers correctives.

It would require prison officials to show cause for placing a pregnant prison in solitary confinement.

An amendment added by the Senate stipulates that a corrections official must justify in writing within twelve hours the use of solitary confinement and why a less restrictive means was not available or utilized.

“The report can be done shortly thereafter,” Pizzo said.

The report must also note if “the individual overseeing prenatal care and medical treatment at the correctional institution objects to the placement.”

Restrictive housing, as the bill language stipulates, means “housing some prisoners separately from the general population of a correctional institution and imposing restrictions on their movement.”

“A pregnant prisoner…may be involuntarily placed in restrictive housing only if the corrections official of the correctional institution makes an individualized determination that restrictive housing is necessary to protect the health and safety of the prisoner or others or to preserve the security and order of the correctional institution and that there are no less restrictive means available,” the House bill reads.

“If the prisoner has passed her due date, she must be admitted to the infirmary until labor begins or until the treating obstetrician makes other housing arrangements,” the bill continues.

“A pregnant prisoner who has been placed in the infirmary must be provided the same access to outdoor recreation, visitation, mail, telephone calls, and other privileges and classes available to the general population unless the individual overseeing prenatal care and medical treatment at the correctional institution determines that such access poses a danger of adverse clinical consequences for the prisoner or others and documents such determination in the prisoner’s medical file.”

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Florida Politics’ Ryan Nicol contributed to this post. 

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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