US: New law ends use of restraints on pregnant inmates as advocates push for more - PressFrom - US

USNew law ends use of restraints on pregnant inmates as advocates push for more

16:25  25 may  2019
16:25  25 may  2019 Source:

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The use of shackles or restraints on pregnant women is still a common practice in prisons and jails in the United States. Shackling is defined as " using any physical restraint or mechanical device to control the movement of a prisoner's body or limbs, including handcuffs, leg shackles, and belly chains".

Using restraints on female inmates who are pregnant , in For most female and pregnant inmates , however, the practice defies logic. In the past few years, psychologists and providers who work with female inmates have started to document the use of such restraints and advocate that they be

New law ends use of restraints on pregnant inmates as advocates push for more© Joyce Marshal Jailhouse Prenatal Classes

WASHINGTON — The bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation known as the "First Step Act" put in place improvements in the care of pregnant inmates, but advocates say it was a baby step and are calling for more to be done.

The new law bans restraining federal inmates during pregnancy, labor and postpartum recovery unless the inmate is considered a flight risk or an immediate threat to themselves or others.

For many years, pregnant inmates have been subjected to restraints as a security measure, despite the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and others warning that using restraints can put the mother and baby at risk. While the Federal Bureau of Prisons changed its policy in 2008 to bar the use of restraints on pregnant women, the "First Step Act" codified that into law.

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Many other states have policies against shackling, but advocates say that without a law it's harder to stop a practice they condemn as dangerous and inhumane. He ultimately voted in favor of the bill, which does allow some shackling during transportation and the use of soft restraints if an inmate is

Free Essay: Restraints on pregnant inmates Mother Behind Bars examines a lot of inadequate State laws are those that are passed and enforced by the state. They cannot contradict the federal. Often, a restraint of trade provision prohibits a former employee from competing against the business

"For too long, our criminal justice system has treated incarcerated women as an afterthought," First Step Act co-sponsor and 2020 Democratic contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., told NBC News of the bill signed into law by President Donald Trump in December.

With data sparse, the measure also requires the Federal Bureau of Prisons to count the number of pregnant inmates, as well as keep track of the outcomes of the pregnancies, whether it is a live birth, miscarriage or abortion.

"The lack of data speaks to the fact that nobody really seems to care about what happens to pregnant women behind bars," said Carolyn Sufrin, an OB-GYN and medical anthropologist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Former inmate Kimberly Haven, of the Reproductive Justice Inside coalition, said of the First Step Act, "It opened up the national dialogue and brought likely and unlikely allies to the same space to have substantive conversations around criminal justice, mass incarceration, racial disparities and gender injustices."

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Many states forbid the shackling of pregnant inmates . But the laws are often disregarded. Ms. Tinen, who was serving time for a nonviolent drug offense, had been placed in restraints frequently throughout Democratic and Republican politicians alike have pushed for anti-shackling legislation.

For more than a decade, the agency has sought to provide medical services for pregnant inmates at But officials said their policy — prohibiting restraints on pregnant inmates unless “absolutely” Advocates for the proposed law presented the judiciary committee with testimony from two former

Sufrin and a team of researchers recently published a study in The American Journal of Public Health finding that 3.8 percent of women newly admitted to federal facilities were pregnant, while there were 753 live births, 46 miscarriages, four stillbirths and 11 abortions in the span of a year.

Sufrin and others say the bill only skims the surface when meeting the needs of pregnant inmates.

The ban on restraining pregnant prisoners — advocates call it shackling — only addresses women in federal prisons, leaving out a large share of the female population behind bars.

While there isn't an up-to-date number on the total number of pregnant inmates, the nonprofit The Sentencing Project says the majority of incarcerated women are in state and local facilities, not federal prison.

More than 20 states have passed laws limiting the use of restraints and including a variety of safeguards, such as barring pregnant inmates from being restrained during transportation, childbirth, and immediately after. Utah and at least three other states also are looking at banning the practice, according to The Associated Press.

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In Washington the use of restraints on pregnant women or youth in custody is allowed in Three states, California, Illinois and New York have taken the lead on passing statewide legislation to On the other hand, a number of states still allow for the use of restraints on pregnant women with no

Pregnant inmates in Virginia would no longer be restrained by waist chains during their pregnancies or labor, except in extreme circumstances, under new In changing its rules, Virginia would become only the 18th state to codify restricting the use of restraints on pregnant women, according to the

Amy Fettig, deputy director of the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, expressed concern that correctional facilities often fall short when putting the requirements of new legislation into place.

"We've gotten these laws passed and then three years later, we find that no one has implemented it," Fettig said, adding that a general lack of oversight makes it difficult to hold jails and prisons accountable.

In addition, there is no required national standard in prenatal and postpartum care for pregnant inmates.

The National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC), the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and others have established minimum standards for pregnancy-related health care for correctional facilities to follow but they are voluntary.

"The (Supreme) Court doesn't set policy in the sense of saying what those standards are or how agencies should comply with the law," Maya Wiley, a legal analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, said.

Sufrin said an onsite or offsite health care provider can range from a certified midwife to a trained nurse practitioner to someone with no experience. As a result, complications can arise such as inadequate nutrition and the lack of screening tests or the inability to troubleshoot acute issues.

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The new law also outlaws the use of shackles within eight weeks after delivery, except in extraordinary circumstances. Restraints have been used on pregnant inmates when they are transported for weekly medical The new law was also hailed by prisoner, women's and civil rights advocates , who

Only California, Illinois, and New York have banned the use of restraints on pregnant women. Photo: Dina Rudick/Boston Globe via Getty Images. On Monday, North Carolina’s Director of Prisons Kenneth Lassiter signed new policy that largely forbids the use of leg and waist restraints on pregnant

One point of varying postpartum care that is gaining attention is pumping. In 2017, Monique Hidalgo successfully filed a lawsuit against New Mexico's Corrections Department over her right to breastfeed after a judge ruled it was a violation of the state constitution to keep incarcerated mothers from breastfeeding their babies.

Sufrin said breast milk provides important nutrients for babies and allows mothers to bond with their newborns. Denying mothers access also can lead to postpartum depression or breast inflammation from milk buildup.

"I think that a lot of jails and prisons have just categorically dismissed the possibility of postpartum women being able to provide their babies with breast milk," Sufrin said.

Advocates cite the example of Maryland, which has taken steps to prioritize inmate's reproductive health care. Lawmakers required all correctional facilities in the state to provide free menstrual hygiene products and have written policies on medical care for pregnant inmates. The policies range from including access to prenatal and postpartum care to miscarriage counseling that must be provided to inmates once a pregnancy is confirmed.

Diana Philip, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, said the state is the first in the nation to ensure correctional facilities statewide establish guidelines on how to care for pregnant inmates, and she hopes other states will follow.

"The First Step Act only addresses shackling and that's the tip of the iceberg when it comes to treating women behind bars," Sufrin said.

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