Drug use and pregnancy
A District Attorney in Covington County, Alabama has made some tough choices of late, including a crackdown on pregnant women who are found to have been using drugs. As a result, pregnant drug users are having their babies and then immediately facing jail time.
As many as eight women have wound up behind bars for this so far. District Attorney Greg L. Gambril is responsible for this. And the women apparently aren't appealing their convictions. "In my jurisdiction," Mr. Gambril is quoted as saying in the NYTimes, "a baby being born dead because of drug use is a huge deal." As I imagine it should for everyone.
Gambril believes drug use among pregnant women is a "continuing crime." Other states have had less success with putting these women behind bars--things like distinguishing between a fetus and a child and seeing jail time as the wrong deterrent have kept pregnant drug users from behind bars elsewhere.
In Covington County, the tiny town where all of this is going down, the sentiment among many is twofold: there's nothing else here to do (besides drugs) and that putting these women behind bars doesn't help them solve their drug problems, it just puts them in prison and separates them from their babies.
What do you think? Is it right to prosecute these women and put them in jail? They are drug users, and they have broken the law as well as (and to some more importantly) put their unborn children in danger. Yet they are also mothers and have serious addiction problems that, as we know from history and experience, don't go away in prison.