We thought passing our antishackling bill would be easy. After all, who would want to be seen arguing that pregnant women should wear chains?
El Salvador today is not a good place to be a woman. In 1998, the government passed a new Penal Code creating a complete ban on abortion. No exceptions. And now with the pregnancy police combing hospitals, even women with miscarriages are going to jail.
As the Massachusetts Legislature considers this year’s crop of criminal justice reform bills, one that has not gotten much attention is a measure to ensure proper treatment of pregnant women in jail and prison.
A widely-supported bill intended to close gaps in existing legislation and ensure that correctional officers would use the least restrictive restraints possible on pregnant women is vetoed by the governor.
The bill to prevent the shackling of pregnant women in CA’s prisons, is the California State Sheriff’s Association’s top priority for a veto. It means more for them to veto this bill than any other bill on the Governor’s desk right now. Those who follow politics in Sacramento know this does not bode well.
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.
The Republican candidate for New York’s District 26 special election once voted to shackle pregnant prisoners who were giving birth.
Women detained by ICE, roughly 10 percent of the detention population, have special medical concerns and face unique challenges in detention.
Idaho has passed a new law that restricts the shackling of pregnant prisoners.