Georgia proposal would restrict shackling of pregnant inmates

Protesters call on the New York governor to sign an anti-shackling bill. AP photo

Protesters call on the New York governor to sign an anti-shackling bill. AP photo

Georgia prison officials would be restricted from putting pregnant inmates in restraints under an anti-shackling measure up for debate in next year’s legislative session.

The proposal introduced by state Rep. Keisha Waites, an Atlanta Democrat, would ban the state from using handcuffs or shackles on a pregnant inmate while she is in labor, during delivery or recovery unless there’s “reasonable basis” that she could cause harm to herself or others.

“Unfortunately, women and individuals who are incarcerated lack the support to move the conversation forward and shed the light to this practice,” said Waites. “It is my hope you will join me in raising awareness this inhuman practice.”

Human rights groups have long condemned American prisons for shackling pregnant women, and the federal prisons system has adopted anti-shackling policies in federal prisons. At least 18 states have restricted the shackling of pregnant inmates, though many contain broad exceptions.

Waites said she hopes to spark a broader conversation about the restraining of inmates that could dovetail with Gov. Nathan Deal’s criminal justice initiatives. The governor’s prisons overhaul has diverted more low-level offenders to alternative programs and funneled more resources into schools and other rehabilitation programs for those still in prison.

A wave of states have recently restricted the practice, including Minnesota in 2014 and New York in 2015. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the state’s law, which bans shackling of pregnant inmates within eight weeks of delivery, a way to strike “the right balance that protect the health and dignity of a pregnant inmate while also addressing public safety concerns.”

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Reader Comments 0

14 comments
Chris Wheeler
Chris Wheeler

Duh. Of course they shouldn't be in shackles. Chances are, they probably don't need to be in jail in the first place!

Steve Morris
Steve Morris

Teach them it's no fun to be in the joint

Margaret Mishra
Margaret Mishra

I suspect the people who wrote the law never experienced labor. It is very distressing for health care providers caring for women in labor when they are shackled. What a way to come to this world

Junelle Lewis
Junelle Lewis

if you don't want the punishment then don't do the crime

Brooke McArthur
Brooke McArthur

So youre saying the guards get ripped apart in other states that don't shackle pregnant women?

Brooke McArthur
Brooke McArthur

So where do we stop? Bring back the public stockades maybe? How about putting the heads of thieves on pikes to rot on the town square? Maybe we can bring our children to beheadings as a fun family event? Such things do not deter crimes. Never has. There's a reason we left them in the annuals of history. All it does is scar the souls of the society the uses such barbaric practices. And damages the prisoner beyond the point where they can become a productive member of community after they serve their time.

Junelle Lewis
Junelle Lewis

just because they are pregnant gives them no special privalege nor does it change them as a person.. I have seen people in their 80's schackled so a 20 year old crack head shouldn't get it any easier

Alvin G Rothe Jr
Alvin G Rothe Jr

Brooke McArthur How stupid to compare handcuffs to the stockade or to heads on pikes. If you are a pregnant woman, to also be a criminal. I am way more worried about the guards. If a pregnant woman will be a criminal they would also attack a guard. I have no sympathy

Brooke McArthur
Brooke McArthur

Or in other countries that have completely abolished the practice?

Margaret Mishra
Margaret Mishra

Alvin G Rothe Jr you implied women choose to be pregnant if they are in the world of criminals they may have been abused and or raped. Then to add on them the physical difficulty of delivering a baby while shackled as well as to ensure hatred by people like you. Is there no decency left in this world