Despite the long-time ban on the practice of shackling pregnant women before, during, and after labor, a recent report states that some prisons are still doing this.
Tamar Kraft-Solar, director of the Women in Prison Project (WIPP), told the Huffington Post that 23 of the 27 pregnant inmates that the WIPP interviewed are still being shackled after the law took effect. Some of the facilities visited by the WIPP include Bedford Hills, Albion, Taconic, and Edgecombe.
The Anti-Shackling Bill, after receiving overwhelming support, was signed into law on August 26, 2009. It prohibited correctional facilities in the state from restraining pregnant inmates with shackles, which are metal bands chained to heavy steel balls designed to limit their mobility within the facility. The law also allowed them to leave the facility (under guard) to give birth at a hospital.
As it turns out, it’s not just a New York problem. Chicago, which also banned the practice, still has prisons carrying them out, either because they were not informed about it or are not trained to comply. California passed its own anti-shackling law in 2005 but still struggles to implement it, even with updated provisions introduced in 2012.
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), shackling can promote venous thrombosis, the formation of a blood clot in the womb. The clot can interfere with the normal delivery of the baby, forcing doctors to resort to procedures such as C-sections. In addition, the burden of the shackles increases the risk of tripping and falling.
Many a birth injury lawyer from New York, like Joseph M. Lichtenstein, believes this is a clear violation of not just the specific law but also of human rights. Even when convicted of a crime, inmates still have rights to some services like proper medical attention. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, medical care in prisons remain one of many major problems in the U.S. penal system.
Those still subjected to this practice should seek help from a Brooklyn birth injury lawyer. An inmate also has the right to a limited number of phone calls, so they should use this privilege to call a good lawyer. The lawyer will pay the inmate a visit and discuss her options, with the ultimate goal of not just securing her rights but a healthy future for her baby too.
(Source: “Prisons Are Illegally Shackling Pregnant Women While In Labor,” Huffington Post, March 11, 2015)