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 litigated 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 served pregnant prisoners who 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

During the two-year Fellowship period, Lauren:

  • Filed several class complaints and successful motions and briefs on behalf of detained and incarcerated people across the country
  • Conducted in-person investigation into conditions of confinement for pregnant people incarcerated in North Carolina including interviews with currently incarcerated women and other advocates
  • Developed “Reproductive Justice Behind Bars,” an ACLU national and affiliate working group and monthly phone call to share resources and assistance on promoting reproductive rights behind bars
  • Worked with local coalition in North Carolina to ensure the release of dozens of pregnant people incarcerated during COVID-19

Next Steps

Following the Fellowship, Lauren has stayed on with ACLU National Prison Project, where she continues to pursue justice for pregnant and postpartum incarcerated people. 

Media

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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Host: American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project

Sponsor: Anonymous

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Host: Florida Institutional Legal Services, Inc.

Sponsor: Advocacy Center for Persons With Disabilities, Inc., The Florida Bar Foundation

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Roz Dillon

Host: Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Sponsor: The Lavan-Harris Family

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Eliza McDuffie

Host: Southern Center for Human Rights

Sponsor: Eversheds Sutherland, The Home Depot

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