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Should women prisoners be shackled during labor/birth?

By July 20, 2009 - 11:46am
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I read an article in the Sunday New York Times yesterday about women inmates in New York prisons being shackled/chained while giving birth and found it so sad. I think it must be horrible enough to give birth while in prison, but to have chains around your waist, your angles shackled and your wrists handcuffed to a bed would be unthinkable. What .... do they think that a 9-month pregnant woman in labor is going to jump out of bed, run off and attempt a daring prison escape? And how awful for an innocent newborn child to be brought into the world with the mom in that kind of trauma. Apparently, there is legislation pending in New York to bar the shackling of women during labor and birth. I wonder if other states allow this to happen as well.

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I also see no logic in shackling a woman in labor. She has enough to deal with, and I seriously doubt she'd be thinking about escape or attack.

July 20, 2009 - 5:07pm
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I believe other states do shackle women in labor.

I'm a big believer in people doing time if they do the crime but I agree that this is inhumane, overly punitive and unnecessary. Prison is not supposed to be fun and it's not a hotel - but many prisoners who are undergoing cancer treatments, surgeries etc, are not always shackled, so why is a woman in labor?

I also think it must be absolutely dreadful to give birth in prison (however, women guilty of crimes should have thought about it first. There is no sense in feeling free to commit crimes when pregnant and then get upset that one has to give birth in prison - these women know the consequences of crime! No-one should get a pass just because they are a parent!)

However, I don't see any logic in this practice, and I'm all about logic. And as you said, if shackled women are in even more stress due to being restrained like this, then it really can transfer to the innocent baby. I remember natural childbirth with my first. I was jumping around the bed in pain. I can't imagine doing that while handcuffed - very, very inhumane. And again, unnecessary.

I really hope women who are awaiting trial are not shackled - whatever happened to innocent unless proven otherwise?

July 20, 2009 - 12:11pm
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