Texas Jail Project, a nonprofit that advocates for improving conditions in Texas county jails, and MomsRising, an online and on-the-ground multicultural organization of more than 1 million mothers and their families, are petitioning a Jefferson County judge to release Kandace Washington, a 22-year-old black mother who is more than 7 months pregnant. At a bond hearing this past Monday, Judge John Stevens refused to release her on bail or on a personal recognizance bond, despite the fact that her pregnancy has been deemed “high-risk,” she is not a flight risk, and she has not yet been convicted of the non-violent charge against her.
Diana Claitor, Executive Director of Texas Jail Project, has been monitoring the situation since Ms. Washington was booked into the jail on July 9th, and explained:
“Jefferson County Correctional Facility, like many others, is not set up to provide medical care for at-risk pregnancies. In that jail’s 2016 report on pregnant inmate care, they said that the majority of their medical care is provided by a physician’s assistant. If Kandace were at home, she would be receiving medical care from her ob/gyn doctor at UTMB, while she awaits her hearing.”
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, CEO and Executive Director of MomsRising, said:
“Kandace Washington, a 22-year-old pregnant mother who had surgery last year, is being held in a Texas county jail where reports are that she’s not receiving exams by an ob/gyn or even regular prenatal vitamins. That is despicable and there is no good reason for this to be happening.
“Time and time again, we see systemic racism play out through our nation’s criminal justice system, forcing people of color to suffer in conditions they should not have to bear. For instance, in 2012, Nicole Guerrero was left unattended while in labor in the Wichita County Jail in Texas, begging for help. The child died after Nicole had to deliver it by herself.
“We will not sit back and watch as the justice system leaves mothers of color and their children to die. That’s why MomsRising is working with Texas jail Project and calling on its members to petition Judge Stevens to release Kandace Washington on bond immediately.“
Jarvis Cooper, partner and father of Kandace Washington’s baby, added: “We are just so worried about our baby and it seems like nobody else is—it’s almost like they don’t think of us as humans.”
MomsRising launched a petition calling for the immediate release of Ms. Washington to ensure her access to appropriate pre-natal care for her health and her unborn baby’s protection. She will still be required to return to court for her case proceedings -- there is a well-established system in place for ensuring the return of people who are released pretrial, like those who are able to post a money bond. The petition, which has been signed by more than 10,000 people, argues that Judge Stevens should trust this system and allow Ms. Washington to receive the lifesaving care she and her baby needs.