By Chelsea Feuchs, JWI Intern
Prison torture in facilities such as Guantanamo Bay caused a huge controversy on a national level. Why, then is there no massive public outcry regarding the abuse that pregnant inmates face every day in state prisons?
Expecting mothers are shackled with leg irons, belly chains, and handcuffs during doctor visits, hospital transportation, delivery, and recovery. These women worry about the negative effects that chaining could have on their babies, with one inmate stating, “It was not only humiliating, but I constantly thought I would lose the baby.” Considering that many female inmates are incarcerated for petty crimes and pose no threat to guards, shackling proves an unnecessary and harmful practice.
Luckily, California Assembly members Atkins, Skinner, and Mitchell have put forward legislation to end shackling during and after delivery in their state’s prisons. Bill AB 2530 would “prohibit a pregnant inmate, as defined, in labor, in recovery, or after delivery, from being restrained by the use of leg irons, waist chains, or handcuffs behind the body.” The scheduled hearing date for this legislation is June 26, 2012, so if you are a California voter, I urge to contact your representative and show your support for this bill.