Friday, January 02, 2009

PHILADELPHIA NOW CHAPTER WORKS TO BAN PRACTICE OF SHACKLING PREGNANT PRISONERS

From Dee Johnson, NOW member and Program Director, Pennsylvania Prison Society:


PHILADELPHIA NOW CHAPTER WORKS TO BAN PRACTICE OF SHACKLING PREGNANT PRISONERS

Members of Philadelphia NOW and the Working Group to Enhance Services to Incarcerated Women—a consortium of nearly 30 organizations working to improve the conditions of women in prison, will meet with Charles Duncan, legislative director for Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Pa.) to discuss comprehensive legislation to ban the practice of shackling pregnant prisoners in Pennsylvania.

Currently, the Commonwealth allows pregnant prisoners to be shackled during transport to the hospital, and while in labor, delivery and recovery.
The new measure will mandate that when a “female prisoner is brought to a hospital from any Department of Corrections facility or county jail for the purpose of delivering her baby, no restraints of any kind shall be used during transport, except that where the officer in charge of the institution has determined and documented that such woman presents a substantial flight risk, such woman may be handcuffed. Under no circumstances shall restraints of any kind be used on any pregnant woman while she is in the hospital awaiting birth, during labor or in recovery after giving birth.”

The bill was drafted by Kathleen Creamer, Esq., a Working Group member and staff attorney for Community Legal Services.

The City of Philadelphia currently bans the use of restraints on pregnant women in the Philadelphia Prison System during labor and delivery. Only three states—Illinois, California and Vermont—currently have laws that prohibit this practice.

10 Comments:

At 12:11 PM , Blogger jocelyn said...

While Serving on the NOW Combating Racism Committee I attended the workshop "From Prison to Empowerment:..." where the 3 panelist had all been shackled during child birth in prison.
This is "cruel and unusual punishment" which is prohibited by VIII Amendment to the US Constitution.
For any woman who has given birth and any man who has been present in the delivery room the possibility of a woman escaping during this process is slim to none!
Calif. has language in the DOC policies but who knows whether it is being enforced.
People in prison are also members of the human race and we should not forget this when they are in prison, especially if they are a part of the 80% minority group who almost automatically go to prison for anything that can be interpreted as even close to crossing the line between right and wrong according to the law of the land!

 
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