N.C. Prisons End Shackling of Women During Childbirth, A ‘Barbaric’ Practice 32 Other States Still Allow
From Common Dreams:
“People’s human rights do not end when they enter the walls of a prison.”
Ending a practice described by medical experts as “barbaric,” the director of North Carolina’s state prisons said Wednesday that women who give birth while they are incarcerated will no longer be restrained or shackled during labor.
Women’s rights advocates applauded the decision, but expressed anger and dismay that North Carolina is now one of just 18 states that specifically bars prison employees from shackling female inmates during childbirth.
“Shackling people during and after childbirth is both cruel and unsafe…This is a matter of life and death for a laboring individual and their child in these situations,” said Monica Simpson, executive director of SisterSong, which led the recent fight in North Carolina to end shackling. “Advocates will continue to work to ensure the strongest version of the policy moves forward and to push for training of staff, so that the policies are consistently enforced.”
In the state, women will no longer be shackled after the onset of labor contractions, during delivery, and immediately following birth. Wrist, waist, and leg restraints will be removed after she is transported to a hospital to give birth, “unless there are reasonable grounds to believe the offender presents an immediate, serious threat of hurting herself, staff, or others” or if she presents “an immediate, credible risk of escape,” according to the News & Observer.
“I am unaware of any cases of women or girls in labor attempting to escape,” Amy Fettig, deputy director of the ACLU national prison project, told the Guardian. “Corrections officials often use this crazy scenario as a justification for chaining women prisoners during childbirth—but it simply doesn’t hold water.”
Eight states—Utah, Kansas, Nebraska, South Carolina, Indiana, Maryland, Georgia, and Maine—have no laws in place to prevent the shackling of women in labor. Several other states place some restrictions on the practice, but not outright bans. In 2015, the Correctional Association of New York found 23 out of 27 surveyed women who gave birth while incarcerated in the state were shackled, despite a 2009 ban. Read the full article.
The United States has 5% of the world’s women, and 33% of its incarcerated women. Women’s imprisonment rose 700% nationally between 1980 and 2014, and women of color are disproportionately arrested and incarcerated. In response to this dramatic increase, the National Institute of Corrections and the National Resource Center on Justice-Involved Women worked to develop effective practices for women’s prisons through a Gender Informed Practice Assessment tool, known as GIPA.Read More
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Under unique statutory authority granted to the CA in 1846, WIPP monitors conditions in women’s prisons in New York, a role played by no other group in the country. WIPP coordinates the Coalition for Women Prisoners, a statewide alliance of more than 1,800 people, and carries out advocacy campaigns to reform harmful criminal justice policies. [...]Read More
Watch the Correctional Association’s video about the barbaric – and illegal – shackling of incarcerated women during childbirth. In 2009 New York enacted a statute restricting the use of shackles on women during childbirth. The law bans outright the use of restraints on women throughout labor, delivery and recovery “after giving birth,” which is meant [...]Read More