Letters to the Editor (May 2008)

Prison Pregnancies

I am writing concerning your article "Courts Hear Cases on Pregnancy in Prison" [March]. Everything is not as black and white as the article implied.

I have been treating addicted criminal offenders for over 30 years. I agree that prison is not the ideal place to be pregnant and that treatment should be a first resort. However, what do you do when a woman is pregnant, on community supervision, and refuses to (or cannot) stop using illegal substances? Do you simply keep trying to engage in treatment while she uses the drugs? Should we ever consider what those substances are doing to the unborn child?

There is also the issue of holding everyone accountable to the same standard. A woman who is not pregnant, or a man, could very possibly be imprisoned for illegal drug use while on supervision. If a woman is pregnant, should that be a reason not to incarcerate her if she violates the conditions of her supervision?

I find it extremely difficult to simply state that a pregnant woman's rights should override any other consideration. Significant research indicates that using addictive substances (alcohol included) can harm a fetus.

George Doerrbecker, CASAC, LMSW
Staten Island, N.Y.


Business Oversight

I want to comment on a glaring oversight in "Social Workers Have a Head for Business" [February]. I just returned from the Social Entrepreneurs Alliance (SEA) ninth annual Summit in Boston. The room was full of social workers designing and running social enterprises (an organization or venture that advances its social mission through entrepreneurial earned-income strategies).

Many of these ventures are nonprofits whose enterprise engages the consumer in the business, focus on disadvantaged populations and are striving to solve problems not addressed by the free market or served by government-supported social services. Your article focused on for-profit private practices, staffing companies and consulting businesses.

John D. Herron, MSW, MBA
Baltimore, Md.