Reports details of the Department of Justice’s findings and successful follow-up actions to ensure protection of reproductive rights of inmates.
Auckland — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced the findings of the California Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into access to reproductive medicine in county jails. Specifically, the Department of Justice has introduced policies required by law to ensure that sheriffs and administrators overseeing each of California’s county prisons protect the reproductive rights of incarcerated individuals. investigated whether or not As a result of the investigation and subsequent Department of Justice work with counties, policy manual compliance rates in county jails have increased dramatically. From less than 2% to more than 96%. These results, detailed in the Department of Justice’s first Reproductive Health Care in Prisons report, represent a significant step forward in Attorney General Bonta’s efforts to reform reproductive health care and the criminal justice system for all Californians. .
“Healthcare is a human right and each of us has the right to access it.” Said Attorney General Bonta. “Today, my office took an important step in ensuring that Californians in county jails receive the reproductive health care they need and are entitled to. We thank our partners for working with us to keep prison staff informed of their duties and to ensure that those incarcerated are aware of their sexual and reproductive rights. The right to be treated does not end when an individual is imprisoned, and my firm will continue to advocate for the reproductive rights of all people, both in California and beyond.”
California state and federal laws require county jails to provide a variety of medical services, including reproductive health care, to those incarcerated. These protections were strengthened in 2020 with the passing of the California Legislature on the Reproductive Dignity of Incarcerated Persons Act (AB 732), drafted by then-Rep. Rob Bonta.
Despite these legal protections, people incarcerated do not always have access to mandated reproductive health services. The Justice Department investigation is a first step toward addressing these issues and making county jails fairer to women inmates.
As part of its investigation, the Department of Justice’s Health Care Rights and Access (HRA) Section reviewed the County Prison Manual to confirm that it accurately reflects the requirements of state and federal law regarding reproductive health care. Specifically, the HRA considered policies governing six reproductive health issues (abortion, pregnancy testing, contraception, childbirth, menstrual products, and breastfeeding) and found that nearly all prison policies in the 53 counties considered were subject to state law and It concluded that it did not fully comply with federal law. Only one county had a policy manual that fully complied with the Reproductive Health Care Act. Since then, the HRA has worked with noncompliant counties, and as a result, 51 of the 53 counties now have policies that protect inmates’ access to reproductive health care by law. The Department of Justice will continue to seek compliance from the remaining counties.
HRA is actively committed to improving the affordability, accessibility, quality and protection of health care in California. HRA attorneys oversee and contribute to various areas of the Attorney General’s medical practice, including non-commercial medical transactions. Consumer Rights. Anti-competitive consolidation in the healthcare market. Anti-competitive drug pricing. privacy issues. Civil rights, such as reproductive rights and LGBTQ health-related rights. Public health actions related to tobacco, e-cigarettes and other products.
A copy of the Reproductive Health Care Report in Prisons is available here.