Today, the Tammy Jackson Act (SB 852, titled Restrictive Housing for Incarcerated Pregnant Women) unanimously passed through the Senate Appropriations Committee with bipartisan support. The legislation 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 bill, filed by Senator Jason Pizzo (D – Miami), is now ready to be heard on the Senate and House floor, increasing its chances of becoming law in the state of Florida.
In a Republican-majority Florida Senate, having a bill unanimously pass through all committees in the House and Senate is an indication of the bipartisan support surrounding this important legislation. This was the last of three committee stops for SB 852. On the House side, companion bill HB 1259 sponsored by House Representatives Shevrin Jones (D – West Park) and Amy Mercado (D – Orlando), has also unanimously passed all three committee assignments.
“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 people, including those who are pregnant, are safe, healthy and treated with dignity, especially during labor, is the responsibility of the state.