Motherhood is not a joy for everyone. In fact, it turned out to be the worst nightmare for Pamela Winn of Georgia, who had no idea that her 78-month imprisonment was going to be torture with the death of her unborn baby, deprivation of basic necessitates like water and putting her in a life-threatening circumstance.
Pamela Winn expressed that the authorities gave her no additional clinical care or nourishment during the first seven weeks of her imprisonment. Indeed, they kept on shackling her in arm and leg cuffs with chains around her belly while transporting her to court hearings. “Shackling is a practice condemned by both, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Psychological Association. “Shackling took the life of my unborn baby, and can do the same to other incarcerated women as well,” she says.
Heading to one of those hearings, Pamela Winn says, she attempted to step into the van yet missed a step, as her legs were restricted by the iron cuff biting into her ankles. She fell hard, incapable of catching herself since her arms were shackled, as well. That very ill-fated night, she began bleeding. “It took more than two weeks to get a jail doctor to check on the bleeding, and a sum of twelve weeks to get my plea approved to visit an external doctor, obstetrician, and ultrasound expert. “I remained in excruciating pain; feeling shame and guilt for being helpless to give my child better care in the womb,” she says.
One night, while still awaiting the four week approval time for one more request to see her ultrasound results, Pamela Winn experience a surge of blood originating from her uterus. At that point came the issues—a contractual pain in her uterus that made her shout out for help. Yet, her screeches went unheard.
“When officers and clinical faculty finally showed up, I was having full blown contractions and hemorrhaging. At the point when I finally made it to the emergency clinic, the doctor told me that I had already miscarried. When the nurse approached the correctional officers asking for the sheets I bled on, they said they had discarded them,” says Pamela Winn. She suffered inhuman torture, realizing that her baby had been thrown in the garbage.
“That was my absolute bottom, just to hear that my child was tossed in the garbage bin,” Ms. Winn said. “My baby, something that was a piece of me, just disposed of like trash … I just felt empty inside,” says Pamela Winn.
Pamela Winn was not a mother who would have accepted all of this as her fate and move on with life. She was a woman, a nurse, and a mother who demanded a change. She got determined to fix these issues then embarked on the challenging journey, and the rest became history.
“There was nothing I could do to save my baby. I was a helpless mother during that moment and I was disappointed in myself. So, I decided that no mother ever should go through the hell I have been through,” says Pamela Winn.
Ultimately, her denial to keep calm led her to become aware of the Dignity for Incarcerated Women’s Act, partner with #cut50, and to lead the Dignity for Incarcerated Women’s Campaign spearheading the efforts to end shackling and solitary confinement in Georgia under a Dignity bill.
While functioning and planning in Georgia for the upcoming 2019 session, Jessica Jackson, #cut50’s national director, and Co-founder, asked Winn how she would feel about including her Dignity legislation in the First Step Act. The bill would likewise set up norms of care for pregnant ladies, embryos, and babies in federal imprisonment, as well as necessitate the Department of Justice to create training projects and rules for federal correctional officers.
The First Step Act successfully passed in 2018, but Winn wasn’t gratified just yet. While she was excited about federal policy, she needed to know that what happened to her in her home state of Georgia would never happen to another woman in Georgia again. Therefore, she continued to empower mothers behind bars and improve motherhood for incarcerated women in by passing HB345 which became Georgia law in October 2019 ending shackling and solitary confinement of incarcerated pregnant women.
After advocating against the shackling of pregnant ladies, bolstering Dignity Bill, and being a consultant on the legislation to improve the provision of pre-natal and post-natal care in jail, Pamela Winn is now untiringly advocating on deferred sentencing for pregnant women.
“The idea is that, if pregnant women are convicted and sentenced to spend time in jail, they wouldn’t start serving that time until 12 weeks after they have delivered their baby. This ought to be a win-win for everyone since it eliminates the financing, liability, and accountability of prisons to be responsible for the care and needs of imprisoned pregnant ladies,” says Pamela Winn.
The underlying perspective behind Winn’s endeavor is to offer a woman liberty to take her own decisions in regard to her pregnancy, her body, and her infant including where her baby goes as well as spend essential time with the infant during its most vulnerable period.
“I strive to empower all the mothers surviving behind bars, provide dignity, reproductive justice, and end mass incarceration of women which I will continue to do until I breathe my last breath,” concludes Pamela Winn.