Prison Birth Project

The Prison Birth Project focused on documenting and improving the conditions for pregnant and parenting people who were incarcerated. NIRH is proud to have partnered with Prison Birth Project since 2014, working on the passage and implementation of Massachusetts’ 2014 anti-shackling policy.

In 2015 the Prison Birth Project, with the support of NIRH, worked to ensure implementation of a Massachusetts state law that prohibits the shackling of pregnant and incarcerated women through pregnancy, labor, delivery, and recovery. They also created a pilot organizing group of mothers and trans parents who are formerly incarcerated or at increased risk of incarceration to engage affected community members in strengthening protections for incarcerated people.

In 2016, Prison Birth Project continued their advocacy and outreach efforts to advance member leadership and strengthen relationships with allies in the Holyoke community. Prison Birth Project members presented critical, emotional testimony on their personal experiences with shackling, prompting multiple meetings with members from Attorney General’s office, which promised to advise the Dept. of Corrections to adhere to the statutes.

In 2017, Prison Birth Project (PBP) continued their partnership with the local women’s jail by offering childbirth education and full-spectrum doula support for incarcerated people who are pregnant, using the reproductive justice framework. The organization also raised awareness of the experiences of incarcerated parents through their #MamasDayAcrossBars campaign and developed strategies to share their expertise and lessons learned with organizations that engage in similar work across the country.

These projects were conducted in partnership with Prisoners’ Legal Services.