SCHUMER ANNOUNCES ‘HUMAN RIGHTS FOR GIRLS ACT,’ WHICH ABOLISHES THE DEMEANING & DANGEROUS SHACKLING PRACTICE USED ON YOUNG PREGNANT PRISONERS IN CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY; LEGISLATION PROTECTS THE RIGHTS OF YOUNG PREGNANT PRISONERS BY BANNING THE USE OF RESTRAINTS DURING LABOR, DELIVERY & RECOVERY
Despite Laws in Twenty-One States, Including New York, Recent Reports Revealed That Shackles Are Still Being Used to Restrict the Mobility of Young Pregnant Prisoners in Correctional & Detention Facilities; Schumer Says That the Practice is Simply Inhumane & Can Be Harmful to Both the Mother & the Baby, As Restraints Can Interfere With Delivery
Schumer Announces New Legislation That Will Prohibit the Use of Restraints on Pregnant Young Inmates During Labor, Delivery, Post-Partum Recovery – And Prohibits States from Using Any Restraint That Prevents a Pregnant Inmate from Protecting Her Stomach
Schumer: Shackling Pregnant Women During-and-After Childbirth is Inhumane, And This Legislation Will Put a Stop to This Disgraceful Practice In Juvenile Detention Once & For All
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today introduced the ‘Human Rights for Girls Act,’ which protects the rights of young pregnant female prisoners by prohibiting the use of restraints on young women in juvenile correctional and detention facilities at all times during labor, delivery and post-partum recovery. Approximately 2,000 prisoners in correctional facilities give birth each year. Currently, twenty-one states, including New York, have laws against shackling pregnant inmates; however, these laws have unfortunately not stopped the demeaning practice from continuing. Schumer went on to say that this horrible, unlawful practice is not only dangerous to the prisoner, but can also be dangerous for the child because the restraints may interfere with the delivery. Schumer’s legislation also prohibits states from using any restraint that prevents a young woman from protecting her stomach if she were to fall during the entirety of her pregnancy. Schumer is urging Congress to pass this legislation, as it will help protect the rights of female prisoners here in New York and across the country.
“Just because a woman is behind bars, doesn’t mean she shouldn’t have access to basic human rights. Placing shackles on a pregnant woman during or after labor and delivery is inhumane, and to hear that this practice is ongoing at correctional facilities across the country is distressing to say the least. Congress must pass the ‘Human Rights for Girls Act,’ which will prohibit the use of restraints on young female pregnant prisoners, and ban the use of any restraint that prevents a pregnant inmate from protecting her stomach. We must put an end to this disgraceful practice and protect the rights of pregnant prisoners,” said Senator Schumer.
“The use of aggressive methods like shackles to restrain expecting mothers can cause complications in pregnancy, raise human rights concerns and endanger lives. We should be extremely careful and judicious about these practices, and that’s why this legislation is important,” said Sen. Cornyn.
Shackles and other restraints, such as handcuffs and ankle cuffs, are used to restrict the inmate’s mobility by repressing her hands and feet.This procedure can be especially excruciating for pregnant women because wrists and ankles may swell during pregnancy. Schumer explained that this practice is also a major health risk because it interferes with normal labor and delivery. Reports have noted that the loss of movement from the shackles can increase the risk of blood clots, which is the main cause of death in mothers in the US. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “women need to be able to move or be moved in preparation for emergencies of labor and delivery…including urgent cesarean delivery.” It has been said that the shackling practice may also inflict pain on women after birth. A prisoner named Jacqueline McDougall from New York was re-shackled to a chain around her waist over her stitched incision on the way back to prison immediately after an emergency C-section in 2012. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also says that shackles may interfere with the female inmates’ ability to bond with her baby.
By 2014, twenty-one states had passed anti-shackling laws. New York’s anti-shackling law, passed in 2009, bans the restraint of pregnant female prisoners during labor, delivery, and recovery in all state correctional facilities and local jails. According to a 2013 report conducted by the Correctional Association of New York’s Women in Prison Project, despite law prohibiting it, New York State hasn’t completely eliminated the use of shackles on pregnant women. The association interviewed 27 women who had given birth at New York's Department of Corrections and Community Supervision between 2009 and 2013. In violation of the law, 85% of those women were shackled at least once.
Schumer today introduced the ‘Human Rights for Girls Act.’ Specifically, the legislation says that states must eliminate the use of restraints on young women in correctional and detention facilities at all times during labor, delivery and post-partum recovery. Second, the legislation says that states must stop using any restraint that prevents a young woman from protecting her stomach if she were to fall during the entirety of her pregnancy. Schumer explained that, while there are state laws banning this practice, it is important for federal legislation to be passed because it will create a nationwide ban that becomes permanent, regardless of the administration. The legislation will require all state juvenile prisons to abolish the shackling practice among young pregnant women.