kentucky legislatureFRANKFORT – A measure designed to improve outcomes for pregnant inmates by limiting shackling during childbirth and by allowing access to substance abuse treatment has moved to the state House.
The legislation, known as Senate Bill 133, passed by a vote of 33-4 today in the Senate.
“The criminal justice system was built for men,” said Sen. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, who introduced the bill. “The overwhelming majority of offenders are male. Most victims are male. Most police, prosecutors and correction officers are male, but Kentucky’s female inmate population is growing.”
As of 2017, Kentucky has the second-highest female incarceration rate in the country, she said. One in four of the women who enter a Kentucky jail or prison is pregnant or has a child under the age of 1.
“Kentucky has the opportunity to make a bold proclamation in 2018 that men and women are different and have different needs, especially while incarcerated,” Adams said. “Senate Bill 133 is a bill that prioritizes above all else the welfare of babies and the women who are carrying them.”
Other provisions of SB 133 would also ensure pregnant women receive proper nutrition behind bars, adequate sanitary items and undergarments.
“Lastly, this bill prioritizes the health and welfare of all women by expanding access to emergency protective orders,” Adams said.
Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Paducah, spoke in opposition to SB 133. He said he just objected to a provision that would allow pregnant women to be released from jail for drug abuse treatment. Carroll emphasized that he shared everyone’s goal of improving the well-being of pregnant women and babies.
“I believe it will also lead to drug dealers using pregnant women to mule, or transport, their drugs in increasing numbers,” Carroll said while explaining why he voted against the measure. “Why? Because the woman will be released as long as she follows the pregnancy-release conditions.”
Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, R-Lexington – the longest-serving female Senator in Kentucky – said she couldn’t be more proud to vote for SB 133.
“It is humane,” she said. “It is decent, and it is right.”
She said it wasn’t a contradiction to be tough and crime and to support SB 133.
“This ... gives these babies a chance at having a mama that can emerge from the fog of drugs,” Kerr said.

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