• Advocating for pregnant women in prison: Georgia can do better

      Webb, Nancy C.; Gates, Madison L. (Georgia Public Health Association, 2015)
      Background: Women are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. prison populace and approximately 1 in 25 were pregnant when they were incarcerated. However, women, including pregnant women, are receiving unacceptable health care in correctional systems. Further, many correctional systems lack policies to protect the best interest of incarcerated women, mothers and their children. Methods: We reviewed the literature on pregnant women in prison and found that corrections has been slow in making changes and adapting facilities for women, especially related to pregnancy, parenting skills and nurseries. It has been suggested the parent-infant attachment and the involvement incarcerated parents have with their children can help in preventing intergenerational crime. Results: The prison system in the U.S. is not set up to meet the needs of pregnant women prisoners. Many states, including Georgia, do not have policies regarding prenatal care or the use of restraints during labor and delivery. Conclusions: Georgia should rethink its prison-spending model. It would behoove Georgia’s leaders to take a look at what programs exist for pregnant women and mothers and consider adopting a model that would be a good fit for our state. We propose a collaborative approach for stakeholders to improve the care of pregnant offenders and the health of their children.
    • Tapping the “town and gown” potential for correctional health research collaborations

      Gates, Madison L.; Staples-Horne, Michelle; Webb, Nancy C.; Braithwaite, Ronald; Hastings, Beverly (Georgia Public Health Association, 2015)
      Background: Collaborations between juvenile justice systems (town) and academia (gown) promise to significantly enhance what we understand about high rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) found among detained populations, particularly African American young women. However, research related to the sexual health of adolescent detainees has not occurred in proportion to the magnitude of issues found in the population. While there are many challenges to conducting research with this population, there are also lessons learned and best practices from other studies that may provide guidance. Methods: In 2015, we implemented a pilot project with young women in a detention center to understand the association between STIs and relationship dynamics. Using a formative assessment-based approach, the team periodically compared expectations to actual milestones and outcomes. This approach has provided feedback, guidance and lessons learned that we will use to adjust our pilot project. Results: Three challenges emerged from our review: concerns related to different agendas, bureaucratic difficulties and human protection. In addressing these challenges, we identified study procedures to revise and to incorporate into future works. Conclusions: Juvenile justice and academic partnerships require extensive pre-research work to account for the many challenges to implementing and conducting projects with this population. However, “town and gown” approaches to understanding and improving the sexual health of detainees can result in a more complete assessment of these issues compared to either a solely academic or juvenile justice investigation.