Tallahassee, FL — Legislation ensuring 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, unanimously passed through the Judiciary Committee today with bipartisan support. The Tammy Jackson Act (HB 1259, titled Restrictive Housing for Incarcerated Pregnant Women) was filed by House Representatives Shevrin Jones (D – West Park) and Amy Mercado (D – Orlando). The bill is now ready to be heard in its final Senate committee and make its way to become law in the state of Florida.
In a Republican-majority Florida House, having a bill unanimously pass through committees is an indication of the bipartisan support surrounding this important legislation. This was the last of three committee stops for HB 1259. On the Senate side, companion bill SB 852 sponsored by Senator Jason Pizzo (D – Miami), has also unanimously passed two of three committees it was assigned to.
“Today’s action of our state legislators is an example of us moving towards a more equitable Florida. They are showing that treating incarcerated pregnant women and girls with dignity and respect is not an issue of partisanship, but of basic humanity,” 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 individuals, including those who are pregnant, are safe, healthy and treated with dignity, especially during labor, is the responsibility of the state.