Anna Carpenter shares her experiences:
This summer, I worked as a law clerk at the Rebecca Project for Human Rights (RPHR), a national legal and policy advocacy organization based in Washington, DC. RPHR works to promote policy reform, justice and dignity for vulnerable families. The organization works at the nexus of the child welfare, criminal justice, and substance abuse treatments systems that impact the lives of vulnerable families. RPHR works to address the pervasiveness of violence against women and girls, the draconian conditions that too often characterize maternal incarceration, and the dearth of access to health and healing for incarcerated mothers and their children—RPHR frames these issues in a human rights context.
I began working with RPHR during the spring semester, when I was enrolled in Professor Aiken's Motherhood and Criminality course. As part of that experiential learning class, I worked for RPHR and supported their work to send the shackling of pregnant incarcerated women. In the United States, most state and federal prisons engage in the horrible practice of shackling women during pregnancy and childbirth. Women are routinely shackled, with hard, heavy iron shackles, across their stomachs (including during transportation to the hospital while they are in labor), by their legs and by their wrists. Women are usually shackled to the hospital bed throughout
labor and childbirth. All of this, despite the presence of guards in the room and despite the fact that most incarcerated women are non-violent offenders.
This summer, I continued to work on the shackling issue by conducting national survey of state policies on shackling. I was also able to write an amicus brief for an 8th Circuit case where a civil rights claim was brought on behalf of a woman who was shackled in Arkansas. My time with RPHR has truly been gift in my personal and professional life. I respect and admire the staff and their approach to the work. I would encourage anyone seeking an amazing summer work experience to contact this inspiring organization.