Today, Legal Voice—in coalition with National Advocates for Pregnant Women and 46 other reproductive justice, drug policy reform, women’s rights, and civil liberties organizations—sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to renounce enhanced criminal penalties for women on the basis of pregnancy.
The letter stems from a case in which Lacey Weld pled guilty to the crime of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, but was given an enhanced sentence of an additional six years in federal prison because she was pregnant at the time she committed the crime. Handing down an enhanced sentence based on pregnancy is contrary to rational and just sentencing policies, as well as to the health and well-being of children and families. The principle that women who become pregnant may be subject to separate, unequal, and harsher penalties than other persons is discriminatory, and it violates the fundamental principles of human rights and reproductive justice.
We urge the DOJ to renounce its position supporting enhanced penalties for pregnant women in Ms. Weld’s case and other cases.