Inmate's Complaint Leads To End Of Breastfeedling Prohibition In Prisons

Aug 5, 2019

An inmate’s complaint about an Illinois prison’s refusal to let her breastfeed has led to a system-wide policy change at the Illinois Department of Corrections

Emily French said she tried to breastfeed her newborn son Elijah but guards at Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln ordered her to stop, citing Department of Corrections’ rules.

“We offered to use a blanket to cover and they said no. So, it was, it was uncomfortable. I felt guilty that I couldn't do anything about it.”

French, a 26-year-old from Savanna, served seven months for a meth-related conviction and has since been released on parole.

The ACLU of Illinois took up French’s complaint, saying it was a violation of the state’s 2004 right-to-breastfeed law. Individual prisons are now updating their policies, according to a Department of Corrections spokeswoman.

Amy Meek is an attorney with the ACLU. She says a 2004 Illinois law guarantees a parent has the right to nurse a child anywhere.

“We think this is a really important issue. Breastfeeding is a fundamental and personal reproductive decision. And that right doesn't end at the prison doors.”