New York Is Illegally Shackling Pregnant Incarcerated Women
The state of New York is illegally shackling incarcerated women during childbirth, according to a new report on reproductive justice from the Correctional Association of New York.
“Women continue to be shackled on the way to the hospital (even when they are in labor), during recovery (even within hours after giving birth and for long periods of time), and on the way back to the prison (even with waist chains just days after having a C-section),” the report said. New York passed an anti-shackling statute in 2009, but according to the Correctional Association, “23 of 27 women the CA surveyed who gave birth after the law went into effect said they were shackled at least once in violation of the statute.”
In many ways, the state of New York is abusing pregnant incarcerated women all over again, given that 90 percent of all incarcerated women experienced sexual and physical abuse before heading to prison, according to the report.
Every year nearly 2,000 women give birth in America’s prisons and jails. Being jailed is a traumatic experience for women in and of itself, given the lack of training and concern for incarcerated women. But “this trauma is compounded by the lack of supportive services to help women grapple with the issues that led them to prison and the challenges they face once inside, including being separated from their families,” the Correctional Association said. Dani McClain, writing at Truthout, reported that, “Women who are not pregnant use newspaper and magazines while on their periods because they are not provided an adequate number of pads.”
Now, couple pregnancy with incarceration and one can only imagine the horror that pregnant inmates face. In New York, pregnant women complained that prison officials did not provide them with enough food, adequate prenatal care, vitamins, heat, ventilation or privacy. The report highlighted how such an environment left many women “feeling depressed and ill-equipped to find stable homes for their babies.”
Clearly, the shackling of pregnant of women is an incredibly painful experience. “Shackling causes physical and psychological pain. It heightens the risk of blood clots and limits the mobility that someone needs for a safe pregnancy and safe delivery. It can cause fetal death,” the Correctional Association’s Tamar Kraft-Stolar said.
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
When Cassidy Green learned that she was pregnant, she and her husband didn’t discuss cribs, co-sleeping, or even diapers. Instead, they worried about more basic and immediate challenges, like whether Green would be able to spend more than a few days with her baby. Green was in prison, 9 years into a 15-year prison sentence [...]Read More
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