WASHINGTON — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order today to release pregnant people who have less than six months in their sentence from New York prisons. 

In response, the ACLU has put out a call for governors around the country, President Trump, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to build on Cuomo’s decision and release all pregnant people from prisons and jails who have less than a year remaining on their sentence. 

Data related to the incarceration of pregnant people is unreliable, but a recent study estimated that nearly 3,000 pregnant people are admitted to state and federal prisons each year, and 55,000 to jails. 

Earlier this week, Andrea Circle Bear, 30 years old of South Dakota, became the first federally incarcerated woman to die from COVID-19 in a BOP facility in Fort Worth, Texas, just 28 days after giving birth. Andrea was serving a two-year sentence for a drug charge.

Cynthia Roseberry, deputy director of policy at the ACLU’s Justice Division, issued the following statement:

“Andrea Circle Bear’s death this week was a startling wakeup call that shows the true cost of the U.S. obsession with mass incarceration during the COVID-19 pandemic. For decades, women have been the fastest growing demographic in U.S. prisons and jails, resulting in the destruction of families and communities — disproportionately communities of color. 

“The data clearly shows that mass incarceration poses a public health crisis that will cause more deaths in communities around this country. Governors around the country, President Trump, and BOP have the power to build on Gov.r Cuomo’s decision and release pregnant people in their custody who are due to be released in the next year. Doing so will mitigate the tragedy we’re facing and will benefit public health around the country.”

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