Outrage over Tennessee Federal Prosecutor Promoting Enhanced Penalties for Woman Who Are Pregnant When They Commit a Drug Crime
Date:  10-15-2014

Opponents of sentencing enhancement say pregnancy should never be used to increase a sentence
Flashback to the ill thought-out “war on drugs’ where laws were quickly penned and enacted without careful consideration of what those laws would do to people of color, communities, and taxpayers’ pocketbooks. Now it seems that states and the federal government are doomed to repeat their costly mistakes, this time with women as the victims of over-zealous lawmakers.

There is outrage that Tennessee now allows a pregnant woman to be prosecuted, and face up to 15 years in prison if she uses narcotics while pregnant. No one wants to see a pregnant woman strung-out on drugs while pregnant, but do supporters of the law feel that this law provides an incentive for an addicted woman to seek treatment for her addiction knowing that she could end up in prison until her unborn child is in high school?

Now, a federal prosecutor in Tennessee is promoting sentencing enhancements for women who are pregnant when they commit certain drug crimes, incurring condemnation from 48 organizations who fired off a letter to U.S. Attorney Eric Holder asking the Department of Justice to renounce enhanced criminal penalties for women based on pregnancy.

RH Reality Check posted an article on October 9, 2014 about the issue that has sparked a movement to end enhanced sentences for women charged with using drugs, or who were charged with a crime involving drugs, while pregnant. Read “Advocates Urge Justice Department to Renounce the Criminalization of Pregnancy” here.