Samantha Rogers, a formerly incarcerated woman, recently spoke at a party celebrating the passage of AB 2530 (Atkins)—California’s new law that forbids the shackling of pregnant women in California’s state prisons, county jails and juvenile probation facilities.
“I was one of the women inside that was shackled. That is humiliating, you know, to be feeling like you are an animal in a cage,” Samantha said to the room filled with people who had helped fight for the hard-won victory. “Change is coming when everybody is aware what really happens behind closed doors.”
This was not an easy struggle—the bill passed unanimously in the legislature twice but was also vetoed twice. In this case, the third time was a charm and the bill passed unanimously to finally be signed by Governor Jerry Brown. The new law went into effect January 1, 2013. You can read AB 2530 here.
Samantha, along with other remarkable people and organizations who helped win this important victory, are highlighted in a new radio documentary, called Our Bodies, Our Stories: Reproductive Health Behind Bars created by Making Contact, a national radio series. The documentary highlights the words of women who have been pregnant while incarcerated, as well as activists who have fought to end the shackling of pregnant women.
Karen Shain, formerly policy director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, is one of the activists highlighted in the documentary. Currently Criminal Justice Policy Officer at the Women’s Foundation of California’s, Karen was a mentor for the Foundation’s Women’s Policy Institute (WPI) Criminal Justice Team of 2009 and 2010, the team that laid the groundwork for AB 2530 (Atkins).
One of the remarkable aspects of AB2530 is the large coalition of women’s and prisoners’ rights organizations that supported it and worked for its passage. More than 100 organizations and several hundred individuals (including many women in prison) wrote letters and signed petitions in support of this bill. The collaboration of people around the state, led by formerly incarcerated women and organizations like Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and the ACLU of Northern California, showcases the importance of combining grassroots organizing with political knowledge, and illustrates why the Women’s Policy Institute was created.
More about Making Contact:
Making Contact has built a network of 141 radio stations across the US, Canada, Australia and South Africa, which broadcast the series each week. Whether you prefer the internet, podcasts, Facebook or Twitter, you can access these radio programs for free, thanks to generous support from the Omnia Foundation, the Mary Wohlford Foudation and hundreds of individuals. Comment on www.facebook.com/makingcontact