Wednesday, June 30, 2010

PHILADELPHIA NOW LAUDS PASSAGE OF SHACKLING BILL

Fom Phila NOW Executive VP, Dee Johnson:

On June 29, 2010, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously approved The Healthy Birth of Incarcerated Women Act to end the shackling of incarcerated women during pregnancy, labor and childbirth. Gov. Rendell is expected to sign the bill, which would make Pennsylvania ninth state to ban the practice.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery County), unanimously passed the Senate in March and the House Judiciary Committee in April.

Without a doubt, because of the efforts of all involved, this bill is now on the Governor's desk. We have so many to thank: Sen. Daylin Leach and his staff, Sen. Stewart Greenleaf and the Senate Judiciary Committee, Rep. Thomas Caltagirone and the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Babette Josephs who advocated with leadership to move the bill out of the House, the Pennsylvania General Assembly, the Working Group to Enhance Services for Incarcerated Women--a coalition of community service organizations and concerned citizens advocating on behalf of incarcerated women, the women who came forward to share their stories about being shackled while incarcerated, and the Pennsylvanians who contacted their legislators in support of the measure.

But it is imperative to give special recognition to Dr. Karen Bojar, former Philadelphia NOW president, whose commitment to improving this situation for women in prison was the impetus for this bill. She was passionate about working to ban the practice of shackling incarcerated pregnant women in Pennsylvania and helped create positive change.

Special thanks also to Kathleen Creamer, a staff attorney at Community Legal Services, who jumped at the chance to research and draft this bill when we brought it to the Working Group; and Naima Black, a program manager at MOMobile, whose presentation on the issue during a Philadelphia NOW meeting sparked the fire in Dr. Bojar. Without their vision and compassion, we might only still be talking about the problem instead of celebrating the passage of a bill to end it.

But, of course, this change came about because of the efforts of all involved. So, again, thanks to each and every one of you...we did it!

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