17 prosecutors say law helping deter drug-dependent births

More than half of Tennessee prosecutors say a new law allowing assault charges against mothers who give birth to drug-dependent babies is having a positive effect.
    
That’s according to a statewide survey done by the Tennessee Department of Safety. The Tennessean reports the agency released results last week showing that 17 prosecutors thought the threat of jail is deterring more drug-dependent births, while seven thought it wasn’t helping and six didn’t respond.
    
In a letter that accompanied the survey, Department of Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons said criminal charges were “used sparingly and selectively” in the six months the law was in effect last year.
    
American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee Executive Director Hedy Weinberg opposes the law. She says it doesn’t entice women to get treatment; it drives them underground.
    

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