Photo of Lauren Kuhlik

Lauren Kuhlik

  • Hosted by American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project
  • Sponsored by The Art Lerner Memorial Fellowship
  • Service location Washington, District of Columbia
  • Law school Harvard Law School
  • Issue area Prisoners' Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2018
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Lauren litigates under the Eighth Amendment to end the use of solitary confinement for pregnant women and develop medical and legal partnerships to create and enforce healthcare access for female prisoners.

This project serves pregnant prisoners who have suffered unconstitutional conditions, including placement in solitary confinement. Approximately 215,000 women were held in state, federal, or local custody in 2014. Experts estimate about 5% of these women—meaning thousands of women—enter prison or jail pregnant, and an unknown number of women are impregnated while incarcerated, usually through coercive sex or outright rape by guards. All of these women could be harmed by the use of solitary confinement and lack of access to reproductive healthcare and options. Prisoners are at a unique disadvantage when it comes to accessing legal services. Nationwide, few organizations exist to assist prisoners with habeas and civil claims, and those that do exist always have far more potential clients than they are able to serve.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past year, Lauren has:

  • Published “Still Worse Than Second Class: Solitary Confinement of Women in the United States”
  • Filed successful briefs in state-wide class action in Nebraska
  • Provided technical assistance to advocates in several states on legislative strategies to protect the rights of pregnant incarcerated people
  • Developed “Reproductive Justice Behind Bars” ACLU national and affiliate staff group and monthly phone call to share resources and request assistance on promoting reproductive rights behind bars
  • Worked with state affiliates and other advocates to begin on-the-ground investigation into conditions of confinement for pregnant people in two states

Next Steps

In the next year, Lauren plans to:

  • File a complaint over conditions of confinement related to pregnant people against a prison or jail
  • Complete and distribute menstrual equity toolkit to assist advocates in promoting access to menstrual supplies for incarcerated people, homeless people, and public school students
  • Work with Pregnancy in Prison Statistics lead researcher to promote knowledge on pregnancy in prison, including presenting to dozens of advocates and developing a conference proposal


Speak Freely No One Should be Forced to Give Birth Alone in a Jail Cell

Maine Congressman Claims Free Period Products Don't Belong in Jail Because It's Not a 'Country Club'

The Time is Now: Pregnant People Incarcerated in North Carolina Must be Released

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