Anna Clark has a great piece up at RH Reality Check about the practice of shackling incarcerated women. She delves into both the realities of the practice (horrific) and the amazing activist response that has arisen to organize against this practice (and has been successful!). Here is an excerpt:
The 2008 federal policy against shackling cued renewed hope among advocates for the humane treatment of incarcerated women. Beyond lawsuits and advocacy with individual departments, legislative campaigns to restrict shackling are finding unprecedented success-after years of falling on deaf ears.
New Mexico is the most recent state to bar shackling through a bill signed by Governor Bill Richardson this spring. New York and Texas currently have bills backed by legislative support that await the word of their governors before they become law. “For us, it’s not enough to change regulations (on shackling in particular prisons),” Saada Saar said. “To do this campaign through the legislature gives us a way to respond to violations of the policy. Through state statutes, mothers’ rights are better protected.”
“A lot of states do have corrections policies that restrict shackling, but (the policies) aren’t commonly known or understood,” Sussman said. “A law allows us to go to court; it makes it hard for others to say they didn’t know (that shackling is restricted).
“We have a strong case in Illinois because of the law there, for example. We need to bring cases to ensure enforcement,” Sussman added. “It’s a dual strategy.”
It’s a strategy that inspires diverse support. Broad coalitions are signing on to legislative and legal campaigns to transform the experience of giving birth in prisons, jails, and detention centers.
Among those backing the New York Anti-Shackling Bill are women’s health advocates, prison rights organizations, medical and public health groups, and “even fellowships and ministries that aren’t our frequent allies,” Sussman said.