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Shocking case of young woman who gave birth in prison - BBC radio 4 Today

27 replies

FannyCann · 23/09/2021 08:59

The tragic and truly disgraceful case of an 18 year old who gave birth in prison, unattended (the baby sadly died) was discussed on the Today programme in the last slot before 8am this morning. About the last ten minutes. There was discussion about the lack of care of pregnant women in prison and why they should not be in prison at all except perhaps in the most extreme circumstances. This young woman hadn't even been convicted - she was on remand.

Sorry, I can't link, perhaps because the programme is still live and I'm on my phone.

I'm at work so can't contribute much but I wanted to flag it up and recommend going to BBC sounds to listen. The details and discussion are appalling, the treatment of pregnant women in prison generally shocking.

OP posts:

Babdoc · 23/09/2021 09:12

It is worse now than ever, as she could have been forced to share a cell with an intact male bodied rapist who self ID’s as a woman. The complete disregard for women’s rights and safety is truly shocking.


Washeduponthebeach · 23/09/2021 09:17

I was really horrified to hear about this. The fact that there has been no proper investigation is appalling. She was on remand as well, not even convicted!


Gasp0deTheW0nderD0g · 23/09/2021 09:21

It was utterly dreadful, wasn't it. (Warning - I'm going to repeat some very upsetting details about the birth.)

The pregnant woman was very upset at the idea that social services might take the baby from her. No idea about the background to this story, but I expect she had grounds to expect that. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the situation, who couldn't grasp that an 18yo on remand in prison while heavily pregnant needs looking after? The staff had written her off as a troublemaker and a drama queen, from the sound of it. She called for a nurse when she went into labour and nobody came. She was left unchecked for hours and hours overnight and during that time she gave birth on her own in her cell. She passed out and has no idea whether the baby was born alive or not.

Next morning a male member of staff came into the cell to check on her because she hadn't come out when the door was unlocked. He saw that she was in bed and there was blood on the floor, and asked her if she had self-harmed. He must have known she was pregnant but I can believe a male prison officer would not think first about that in those circumstances. Of course it was far too late to do anything for the baby. God knows what state the mother was in by that time.

There has to be a better way to deal with pregnant women in the criminal justice system than this. The evidence is there that imprisonment itself makes the pregnancy high risk.


FannyCann · 23/09/2021 09:38

The programme is up on sounds now, listen around 07:50

OP posts:

TheABC · 23/09/2021 10:01

I can't believe how badly she was treated.
Inhumane does not cover it.


sqirrelfriends · 23/09/2021 10:09

How truly awful, animals are treated better.

I can't even imagine how terrified she must have been.


Wrongsideofhistorymyarse · 23/09/2021 10:10

That poor wee girl.


FannyCann · 23/09/2021 10:37

Share token

Prisoner, 18, tried to save baby after giving birth alone in cell.

OP posts:

OhHolyJesus · 23/09/2021 11:54

Animals are treated better, for surrogacy for mother abs baby as well as pregnant and labouring women in prison.

Surely she should have been transferred to a prison with a mother and baby unit? She would have had been with the baby for up to 18months at least. It's beyond infuriating as it didn't need to end this way, the baby didn't need to die and this very young woman, still a teenager, didn't need to have this happen to her. She will feel it always. It will never pass for her. Just awful.

I remember reading this a while ago so am sharing as it has some basic stats:

"The government has released some basic figures, indicating 47 pregnant women in prison on one specific day in October and fewer than five births in prison itself over the past year. But the means by which these figures were collected (a ‘bespoke counting exercise’) shows the lack of readily available and rigorous information in this area, and therefore the challenge of holding people to account when things go wrong."

And this which mentions specific research on this being conducted


FannyCann · 23/09/2021 12:16

Also she was on remand @OhHolyJesus
Had not been convicted of any crime.
I think it said it was her first offence - robbery.
Does that really require anyone, let alone a vulnerable young pregnant woman to be locked up pending trial?

I'm sure I've read of violent men accused of crimes like rape being let out on remand and then going on to commit further crimes whilst free.

But a vulnerable young woman, little more than a child herself - locked up.

OP posts:

DomPom47 · 23/09/2021 12:17

Heard this on the radio last night. Shockingly sad. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity and this young woman did not have this. Can’t imagine the fear she must have felt. I hope she will be given the right help to process what has happened to her.


Gasp0deTheW0nderD0g · 23/09/2021 12:26

I thought we'd reached rock bottom when Ann Widdicombe defended pregnant women being taken to hospital in handcuffs and handcuffed to the bed to stop them absconding while in active labour.

However, it seems there's always further to fall.


purpleme12 · 23/09/2021 12:34

I heard on the news she'd pushed her bell or whatever it is twice for a nurse. The first one no response the second one connected but then it got immediately disconnected. So sad and so shocking

I don't understand how you can fall asleep and your baby be in born in your sleep though like that article seems to say?


Gasp0deTheW0nderD0g · 23/09/2021 12:40

I think she passed out with the pain and the shock, rather than feel asleep.


Sillydoggy · 23/09/2021 12:48

Are those who failed to give her proper care going to be held to account? I mean individuals rather than the system although that needs to be addressed as well - pregnant women should not be in a general prison but in a specialist unit. This is appalling.


OvaHere · 23/09/2021 13:31

It's a really appalling situation. I hope those responsible are held accountable. She deserved proper care.

Not terribly surprising since we know how little consideration is given to the safety and well being of women in prison.


FlibbertyGiblets · 23/09/2021 13:36

It is dreadful, so cruel. The staff attitudes will come from the top so I would expect the governor to ultimately swerve a telling off and probably get promoted be held responsible.

That poor young woman, I feel so angry.


YetAnotherSpartacus · 23/09/2021 13:37

Fuck, this is barbaric.


334bu · 23/09/2021 14:03

Absolutely appalling. No words.


OhHolyJesus · 23/09/2021 14:45

Some further discussion on this thread also

Women's Wellbeing in Prisons


ArabellaScott · 23/09/2021 14:55

It is so utterly tragic. I hope she is getting support, now.

The article I read yesterday said that improvements had been made, but also that more places were being created for women in prisons.

This young woman shouldn't have been in prison.

Nor should Annelise Sanderson, who sounds like she was in need of mental health support far more than prison.


ArabellaScott · 23/09/2021 14:57


FrancescaContini · 23/09/2021 15:00

I heard this report this morning and felt sickened and horrified. I can’t believe how callously she was treated - nobody replied to her ringing the bell, for example. And her baby - Flowers


catzwhiskas · 23/09/2021 15:45

On Woman’s Hour today as well. With the ombudsman for prisons. A curiously defensive interview in which it seemed that no disciplinary action had been taken. This was contradicted by the prison shortly after the item. I do not trust women to be cared for either when giving birth or reporting violence by males who now have free access to those prisons where many vulnerable women live. Yes men are out on bail for horrendous crimes, while women remanded for a first offence when pregnant are not. However I do acknowledge that for some women prison can provide a place of safety, compared to the abuse they face outside. I don’t know how well these privatised prisons are doing . But we must fight for more care for those women incarcerated. These baby deaths are the tip of an horrendous iceberg.


CousinKrispy · 23/09/2021 17:25

Shocking and horrifying. I notice the Times article says the prison is run by Sodexo. Ironically they run my employer's childcare voucher scheme, I will be writing to the head of our organisation suggesting we make a change.

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