Last year California Jerry Brown caused an uproar among advocates for pregnant inmates when he vetoed a bill that would ban the shackling of inmates during labor and delivery. This year, AB 2530 which was sent to him after being unanimously passed in the Senate, was signed by the Governor and will go into effect on January 1, 2013.
Karen Shain of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children posted an excited message in Strong Families, “NO PREGNANT WOMAN in California’s prisons, youth authority, county jails or juvenile detention facilities can be shackled around the belly, around the ankles or handcuffed behind the back DURING THEIR ENTIRE PREGNANCY. And once a woman is in labor, delivery or recovery…OR IF A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL ORDERS IT…they cannot be restrained at all, provided that there is not a pressing security issue.”
Opposition to banning the shackling of pregnant women has been led by some correctional officers’ organizations that fear that an inmate in labor can escape if not shackled. States that have passed anti-shackling legislation have relied on reports from medical experts who claim that shackling pregnant inmates can cause serious medical problems for both mother and child.
While California has been commended by women’s rights and medical organizations for taking a stand against shackling pregnant inmates, other states still have shackling rules in place. Organizations such as Birthing Behind Bars are campaigning to see that the inhumane and dangerous practice of shackling
pregnant woman is banned in all 50 states.