It has been a long standing practice in state and federal prisons to escort pregnant prisoners in full shackles to delivery and chain them to the bed. The practice is one that many medical, prison, and women’s advocates have rallied against for years citing it as dehumanizing and intentionally humiliating for women. Those who subscribe to the belief that prisoners forfeit their humanity, should note that the practice extends to women guilty of little more than shop lifting or sitting in a get away car driven by their abusive boyfriend. More recently, this practice has been extended to immigrants held in detention centers “guilty” of working labor intensive jobs others would not without the proper documents.
The Bureau of Prisons has recently decided to stop this practice in all Federal Prisons!!! Not only does this restore some humanity to incarcerated pregnant women, but it also decreases stress levels during pregnancy that some studies have linked to physical and mental health disorders later in life for newborns. Hopefully, the decision will make it that much easier for people advocating for the same change in state prisons to succeed. As of now, 23 states allow the shackling of prisoners; CA is the only state along the West Coast that does not.
(image: ZUMA Press/Mark Allen Johnson)