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Another Mother Arrested for Giving Birth While Addicted to Drugs

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Even though research studies show that the best way to curb addiction is through treatment, some states are passing laws which criminalize drug addiction.

Jamillah Washington

Jamillah Washington

In the latest arrest, a Memphis, Tenn. mother was taken into custody after she and her newborn daughter tested positive for heroin, opiates, and marijuana.

Jamillah Washington was taken to jail on Monday night after investigators learned that the woman had used heroin only days before giving birth.

Evidence also shows that Washington has been pregnant five other times but her daughter Messiah is her only surviving child.

As BreakingBrown previously reported Regina McNight, an African-American mother in South Carolina, ended up behind bars for the homιcide of her child, after it was stillborn.

Because McNight had used cocaine during her pregnancy, she was sentenced to 12 years behind bars in 2008, a sentence that was eventually overturned because McNight had ineffective counsel. McNight served eight years in prison for giving birth with drugs in her system.

As The New Republic reported, hospitals tend to target black and poor women for testing:

In one study, black women were ten times more likely than white women to be reported to governmental authorities for substance use, despite similar rates of addiction. In another survey of New York hospitals, those serving low-income women were much more likely than those serving wealthier patients to test new mothers for drugs, and to turn positive results over to child protection authorities.

So although Washington may very well be a repeat drug user, the question becomes whether putting her in prison helps her or her newborn child. Does the child benefit from having a mother who is in prison and unable to care for them? Or would treatment be a better option? What do you think?





  1. LeahO

    July 29, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    She needs treatment. I’m a food addict right and can’t stop. I can’t imagine being a drug addict. Get the girl treatment.

  2. Anthony allen

    July 29, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Its not about addiction or the child. Its about keeping the prisons full ,and the legislators who have financial interests in these prisons rich.

  3. Deborah Bee

    July 29, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    The penalty for the 1st offense should be prison time, if she’s on drugs after that sterilize her!

  4. TT_CA

    July 29, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    So it begins! 1st the black man in the 90s for being a drug dealer! yet now the white man is making billions off selling weed!

    now it’s the black womansbturn to do jail time for drug addition!!’0_o if y’all don’t see the writing on the wall!: by any means they are going to keep the black race in shackles!
    Americanized Black learn to help, respect, teach each other! the demize it Real!! white folks are killing you out of fear, incarcerating you out of spite, raping yout black women out of jealously!!
    And yet black man stay degrading the race who gave birth to him! #smh
    2030 .001 black will walk among whites the rest dead or in jail (shackled/slaves!!)

  5. Frazier Muhammad

    July 29, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    She needs treatment. The system is being used to lock up blacks n poor women . The medical establishment determines by race n social status whom t persons being tested shall be therefore racist n bigot thinking individuals are able to determine whom shall go to prison n whom will get a get out of jail free pass . Treatment is so very necessary for these women n their babies should they survive .For poor women n poor women of color treatment is really required because they have so many problems that are economical physical physiological that others do not face n a daily walk these issues must be treated n considered when designing treatment programs for these specific women that is too often over looked. Than their babies that survive usually have very specific problems that are often addressed without Mothers input or specific training to deal with the demands of children born with said addiction causing an increase in potential harm to t child from parental abuse.

  6. Jacqueline Dickens

    July 29, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    I suppose that America prides itself on all the money it generate for the 1% that own the jails and the companies that support incarceration, especially the poor of all colors. We hear more about Blacks on the news, but the numbers show there are more miserable, doped up whites that are poor and without means to be something in this world. I am Black and I do relate more to my own, but I am sick of a total system that hurts its people of ALL kinds. Blacks are specifically targeted, I know. The money made off of housing sick people is a shame for us as a Nation. I pray that white people can wake up soon enough to know that in the end, our pain will be their pain, one day.

  7. Jeannette D

    July 30, 2014 at 1:37 am

    This I’d supposed to be mandatory everywhere

  8. Bert C

    July 30, 2014 at 4:00 am

    Tariq Williams, Any woman that uses heroin, other opiates, and marijuana or smoke cigarettes while pregnant deserves what they get. I have worked with hundreds of pregnant woman who were pregnant and have had positive outcomes. The treatment for pregnant women who are addicted is Methadone, it’s the only approved drug that will not harm the fetus. Healthcare professional will usually go all out to help these women. Although there are times when treatment personnel may display, unknowingly Countertransference, that is personal issues they have not dealt with.. THINK ABOUT IT: How much does a women really care about her child who continues to use multiple drugs,and a history of multiple dead babies. She’s a serial killer due to her lack of caring or mental illness. This has nothing to do with race at this level. I could go on and share with you the dynamics of addiction, but I will just give you the Definition: Addiction from the Latin Addictus, meaning to give Oneself over to a behavior being it drugs, food, gambling, etc. This means that EVERYTHING and EVERYONE around you is SECOND to the behavior. Addiction eats away at all the differences between people, Addiction does not care if you are from Yale or Jail, Park Place or Park Bench, Black or White, Educated or Can’t read your name. The need is to choose treatment, you cannot do it alone.

  9. MW

    July 30, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    Yes Ana-stank-azz since you seem to think that black women have a problem keeping their legs clothes then it must kill you to know that your white men love to crawl up in them, lol. Yes, every time you decide to make a comment on our page I am going to be right there with you when I see it. Ha ha, I love it. Until the next time Mister Ana-stank-azz!!!

    • MW

      July 30, 2014 at 1:25 pm

      Oops typo, I meant “closed.”

  10. Devon

    July 31, 2014 at 2:15 am

    Why cant we stay out the prisons why do we keep usin priso as a rites of passage? Why blk mamas takin drugs and theyre pregnant? Taking drugs is illegal and takin drugs when youre pregnant can hurt the baby so you might go to jail and lose your kids. Drug addict not fit to raise kids and keep them from drugs and jail. Yall generation is the stupidest one becuz yall old folk stay co signing stupid. Dont wanna send criminals to prison for nonviolent crime. Drugs illegal.

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