When Hospitals Become Prisons

This document presents the research survey portion of the Hospital ≠ Prison project, and is being sculpted into a series of recommendations that are aimed to shape public policy in Haiti concerning the treatment, welfare, and rights of Haitian patients.

Noutchie stands at the gate of the hospital. Photograph tracing with altered facial features.


This report presents a research update on the collaborative investigation into the hospital detention of mothers and infants in hospitals in Haiti, developed in partnership between Dr. Alissa Jordan, Associate Director of the Center for Experimental Ethnography at the University of Pennsylvania (CEE), Jean-Denis Aureleus, President and Founder of Asosasyon De Defans de Dwa Enfant ak Fanm (ADDEF) and Nurse Carmelle Moise, Midwife and Board Member of MamaBaby Haiti (MBH). This project comes out of a mutual desire to craft a policy-influencing platform for Haitian mothers and families to voice their experiences of hospital detention, and for them to inform more equitable and just strategies for healthcare allocation.

The central aim of this research is to produce a national report on the frequency and extent of hospital detention practices in Haiti, the impact of hospital detention on maternal and infant wellbeing and healthcare decision making, the status of patients rights in healthcare facilities, the legal frameworks pertinent to debt, extra-judicial arrest, and extrajudicial detention in Haiti,  and the financial impact of patient insolvency on healthcare institutions. The report will be published in digital and physical form, including recommendations, and will be circulated to a broad range of stakeholders and policymakers in the Haitian government, Haitian healthcare systems, and global public health. It is expected to be of interest to a broad range of audiences and institutions, especially those invested in maternal health, reproductive justice, public health and public health financing, patients rights, and universal health coverage in Haiti and beyond. As the first study in Haiti to 1) explore hospital detention and 2) to compare hospital detention experiences internationally, it will provide critical information for understanding the practice and its impact on maternal decision-making globally.

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