The Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC) decided to strengthen and expand existing policies banning shackling of pregnant inmates during labor, delivery and post- recovery. The National Religious Campaign Against Torture applauds this step. However, the cruel and inhumane practice of shackling inmates who are in labor still occurs in some local and regional correctional facilities. Virginia should join the 13 states that have enacted legislation to prohibit this barbaric practice.
Fourteen states currently limit the use of restraints on pregnant inmates, and now Virginia is one of the few states with forward-thinking policies regarding the use of restraints on pregnant inmates. However, local and regional jails in Virginia are not subject to the DOC regulations, so pregnant women at those facilities are still at risk.
On Feb. 4, the Virginia General Assembly’s House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee defeated a bill that would have limited the use of restraints on pregnant inmates.
Following up on the Massachusetts school district in the hot seat over a policy to distribute condoms to any student that requests one, plus Sharron Angle knows God’s will, and Pennsylvania is poised to ban the shackling of incarcerated birthing women.
Using restraints on women in prison during labor and delivery is cruel, inhumane and degrading and rarely justified on security grounds. Our video profiles a woman shackled during childbirth.