The Rebecca Project for Human Rights

The Rebecca Project for Human Rights is a national legal and policy organization that advocates for public policy reform, justice and dignity for vulnerable families. Their mission is to improve the status of women and girls who may live on the margins of acceptable society. They wish to help train mothers and girls to help educate policymakers for sensible criminal justice, child welfare and economic policy reforms.

The Rebecca Project for Human Rights is helping to improve conditions of confinement for female prisoners and well as improving conditions for pregnant inmates and seeking to provide alternatives to incarceration for mother inmates.

"Unfortunately, pregnant women, incarcerated women and their children are subject to federal and state correctional policies that fail to recognize their distinct needs or honor their families."

Mothers Behind Bars is a state by state report card and analysis of federal policies on conditions of confinement for pregnant and parenting women and their effect on their children prepared by the Rebecca Project for Human Rights and the National Women's Law Center.

In the executive summery for the Mothers Behind Bars, the Rebecca Project for Human Right states:

 "There are now more women behind bars than at any other point in U.S. history. Women have borne a
disproportionate burden of the war on drugs, resulting in a monumental increase of women who are facing
incarceration for the first time, overwhelmingly for non-violent offenses. This rampant incarceration has a
devastating impact on families. Most of these women, unseen and largely forgotten, are mothers. Unfortunately, pregnant women, incarcerated women and their children are subject to federal and state correctional policies that fail to recognize their distinct needs or honor their families."

This is a heavy and profound statement! The children of incarcerated mothers are often sent to foster homes, or to live with relatives where they may not receive the intimate bond created between mother and child.

The goal of the Mothers Behind Bars report card is to motivate federal and state governments to reevaluate current policies that do not protect incarcerated mothers and pregnant inmates. It is also hoped that the report card will help advocates identify institutions that may be violating Department of Corrections' policies or state laws regarding incarcerated mothers.  

When reviewing the report card, please note that institutions that have a formal commitment to ensuring women's human and civil rights through policies that require pregnant inmates access to pre-natal care, restrict the use of restraints on pregnant women and maintain and strengthen the mother/child bond through the use of alternative sentencing--receive the highest grades.