Shackling of pregnant incarcerated women covered by NPR

Last week, NPR ran a story about the shackling of pregnant incarcerated women. It’s an issue we know well by now, but the mainstream attention it’s getting is important.

You can listen to or read the story here.

The movement to outlaw shackling is gaining traction, and unlike much of what we work on, this issue has few opponents (not none, but few).

But even when we are able to push through legislative measures, the fight doesn’t end there. Enforcement of these measures is really difficult, because of the complicated system of authority in prisons. Procedure can be decided by one authority figure in the prison.

A doula I know who works with incarcerated women recently explained to me that putting restrictions on shackling isn’t enough. It isn’t just about shackling during delivery, or even labor, but also during routine medical exams for folks who are pregnant and folks who are not.

The bottom line is that we can’t stop just with these policies. It’s connected to the broader issue of how folks are treated when they are incarcerated, and how we make sure these changes get enforced.

For more background check out this article by Anna Clark at RH Reality Check.


2 thoughts on “Shackling of pregnant incarcerated women covered by NPR

  1. cuntasticblog July 20, 2010 / 2:37 pm

    I was blessed to support an incarcerated woman through her birth several years ago. She was not shackled, though she had been convicted of multiple severe offenses. A female officer stayed in the room the whole time, but was very respectful of what was going on. When second stage came, the officer stepped out and sat in the hall beside the door to give the mama some privacy, which I thought was a very powerful gesture. I can’t think of many ways this birth could have gone better, and I’m so glad, especially knowing some of the terrible experiences of other incarcerated women. Thanks for all who do this work.

  2. marianne bullock September 16, 2010 / 12:41 pm

    so glad to see that you mentioned going further! its so true, we need to go further than anti-shackling to anti-restraint during pregnancy and POSTPARTUM. we also need to push for the abolition of medical isolation for women after delivery, and access to breastfeeding policy that supports mother and infant. Thanks for the post! – m

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