Carolyn Sufrin

Carolyn Sufrin is the author of Jailcare: Finding the Safety Net for Women Behind Bars. She is an obstetrician-gynecologist and medical anthropologist in Washington, D.C., and a member of the Scholars Strategy Network.

Recent Articles

When Jail Is the Only Way to Get Prenatal Care

Why are we locking up pregnant women?

(Dave Nakayama/Flickr/Creative Commons)
(Dave Nakayama/Flickr/Creative Commons) “ My worst day in jail is better than my best day on the streets.” Every time Kima, a young mother I cared for while she was incarcerated and pregnant at the San Francisco jail, said this to me, my heart sank. She made this declaration—too many times for me to count—not because jail was comfortable or relaxing, but because her life outside of jail was so tumultuous, so precarious, that jail in comparison was a temporary salve. As an OB-GYN and researcher who provides and studies women’s health care behind bars, I have gotten to know many pregnant women like Kima. Kima has a vibrant, spunky personality. She is a spoken-word artist whose beautiful poetry has brought me and others to tears. Kima also grew up in an unstable home, and her school was ill-equipped to help, so she dropped out as a teen. With no employment opportunities and poor social supports, she wound up homeless. She was sexually assaulted. She started using drugs to ease her pain,...