Countless women in Maryland enter correctional facilities while pregnant. Those women often endure humiliation, pain, and risk of being harmed from being shackled throughout their pregnancy during transport, labor, delivery, and recovery.
National correctional and medical associations oppose shackling pregnant women because it is unnecessary and harmful. Yet Maryland law does not require correctional staff to consider input from medical professionals when deciding whether to unshackle a pregnant woman, even during labor and delivery.
The law regarding the shackling of pregnant women needs to be clear and humane, and the practice must be prohibited during labor and delivery.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE PRACTICE?
_ Shackling pregnant women is dangerous and inhumane.
_ Major national correctional and medical associations oppose shackling pregnant women because it is unnecessary and harmful to a woman and her pregnancy.
_ The vast majority of female prisoners are non-violent offenders who pose a low security risk - particularly during labor and post-partum recovery.
WHAT WILL HB 027/SB 656 ACCOMPLISH?
_ Prohibits use of any physical restraint during labor and delivery.
_ Prohibits use of physical restraints in the 2nd or 3rd trimester of pregnancy in any context, absent an individualized determination of substantial flight risk or security circumstance that jeopardizes staff, the inmate or public safety.
_ Prohibits use of any leg or waist restraints for women in their 2nd or 3rd trimester of pregnancy and requires that any restraint used be the least restrictive possible.
_ Require that correctional staff remove restraints upon the request of a health professional.
_ Require that medical professionals decide when it is safe to return a woman to prison.
_ Applies to all prisons and local correctional facilities.
_ Require that each instance of physical restraint be recorded, retained for five years, and reported to Governor and the General Assembly.
OPPOSITION TO SHACKLING OF PREGNANT WOMEN
American Civil Liberties Union Baltimore, MD
Women's Law Center of Maryland, Inc. Baltimore, MD
Public Justice Center Baltimore, MD
Power Inside Baltimore, MD
Marian House, Inc. Baltimore, MD
Alternative Directions, Inc. Baltimore, MD
Hopkins Feminists, Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
Baltimore Student Harm Reduction Coalition, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
National Advocates for Pregnant Women New York, NY
Different Avenues, Inc. Washington, DC
Women With A Vision, Inc. New Orleans, LA
California Coalition for Women Prisoners San Francisco, CA
Rachel Roth, Ph.D., Soros Justice Fellow, Author Arlington, MA
Healthcare for the Homeless, Baltimore, MD
Turn Around Baltimore, MD
Our Bodies Ourselves
Shackling of Pregnant Women: Danielle's Story
This is Danielle's story of being shackled during her labor and delivery while a prisoner in Maryland.