CA APPLAUDS SWIFT PASSAGE OF NEW IMPROVED ANTI-SHACKLING BILL BY NYS LEGISLATURE

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RJ Rpt Shackling Law Violatn JPEG w CA copyright(June 29, 2015, New York, NY) The Correctional Association of New York (CA) today enthusiastically welcomed the quick action last week by New York State lawmakers in passing new anti-shackling legislation. This bill strengthens enforcement of the current law and expands anti-shackling protections to women throughout their pregnancy and eight weeks post-partum.

The bill, whose chief sponsors were Assemblyman N. Nick Perry (D-58th Assembly District)) and Senator Velmanette Montgomery (D-25th Senate District), is a major victory in the fight to end the barbaric practice of shackling. A report issued by the CA’s Women in Prison Project earlier this year found that of the 27 women interviewed who gave birth after the original 2009 law banning shackling during labor, delivery, and recovery, 23 had been shackled in clear violation of the law.

Governor Andrew Cuomo will have 10 days upon receipt to sign or veto the bill.

“Shackling is a degrading practice that causes suffering, endangers the health and safety of women and their babies, and violates basic standards of human rights and decency,:” said Jaya Vasandani, Acting Director of the Ca’s Women in Prison Project. “The legislature has done the right thing by passing this critical legislation and we now look to the Governor to sign the bill into law to end this inhumane and barbaric practice.”

“No one should have to experience what I went through,” said Tina Tinen, an outspoken critic of the practice who was shackled while in active labor in 2011. “This new law recognizes the huge risk that shackling poses to women in every stage of their pregnancy.”

Maria Caraballo, who was shackled during labor and delivery and remained shackled to the bed immediately after childbirth, said, “Those first moments with your baby right after they are born are so important.”   Caraballo, who now advocates for incarcerated women, added, “Having to hold my baby with one hand while I was shackled was a very painful experience. I’m glad that this law ends that.”

The CA’s advocacy around the shackling of pregnant women is part of a much larger campaign to address the state of reproductive health care for women in NYS prisons.  Learn more here.