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Author Topic: Ending The Medieval Practice Of Chaining Pregnant Women To Beds  (Read 5566 times)

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Offline codyandbecca

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Childbirth is an occasion to be celebrated. Despite the pain and discomfort of labor and delivery, bringing new life into the world is cause for elation. After nine long months of waiting and preparation, a mother’s joy at actually seeing her baby and touching the tiny feet that she felt kicking inside her is hard to describe. When mother and baby come home from the hospital, the whole family rejoices and welcomes a new family member.

But what if you are a mother who is in prison? How do you celebrate your child’s birth when you are incarcerated? How much elation can you feel when you are shackled to the bed during your labor? How does the family welcome the newborn when mothers are sent back to prison alone twenty-four to forty-eight hours after giving birth?

Women are the fastest growing segment of the burgeoning prison population. The number of women prisoners in Illinois has tripled in the past ten years. Today there are over 2,400 women incarcerated in the four Illinois prisons that house women. About 80% of those women are mothers, most are single mothers who were the primary caregivers of their children before their incarceration. Being separated from their children is one of the most difficult components of punishment for mothers in prison, and the children who are left behind are punished along with their mothers. The pain of being separated from their children is even more acute for mothers who give birth while in the system. After being shackled to their beds during labor, they are denied contact with their infants during the critical early bonding period.

Dwight Correctional Center, the primary state correctional reception and classification facility for adult females in the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), houses all pregnant inmates. In 1997, there were fifty-one babies born to women there. While the prison works to provide adequate medical services, OB-GYN care is only available on a part-time basis. The women receive their regular pre-natal care at the prison but deliver their babies at a hospital in the neighboring community.

The women are shackled while they are transported to the hospital. Once at the hospital, regardless of their security status, they are also shackled to their beds during their labor. One end of the metal restraints is padded with gauze and attached to the woman’s ankle, the other end is fastened to the bed, severely limiting her movement. Birthing experts recommend that women move during their labor. In general, women are more comfortable out of bed and moving helps the labor progress more quickly while lessening the pain. This use of restraints for security purposes is totally unnecessary since there are corrections personnel at the hospital when inmates are there.

CLAIM is working with state legislators to address this practice. The so-called "prison reform" legislation that was proposed in the spring legislative session included a provision to abolish the practice of shackling pregnant women. But this legislation also included draconian provisions that would have prohibited contact visits for inmates at all maximum security facilities and imposed a six-month "impact isolation" program where all new inmates would be on 23-hour-a-day lockdown. Thankfully, this bill (HB 3000) did not pass.

After the defeat of the "prison reform" legislation, Representatives Lou Jones, Barbara Flynn Currie and Shirley Jones proposed House Bill 3891 to deal specifically with the issue of using restraints on pregnant women. This bill says that "when a pregnant female committed person is brought to a hospital from an Illinois correctional center for the purpose of delivering her baby, no handcuffs, shackles, or restraints of any kind shall be used during her transport to the medical facility." It further states that "under no circumstances shall leg irons or shackles or waist shackles be used on any pregnant female committed person who is in labor."

Some would argue that the use of restraints is necessary for public safety. But the fact is that women prisoners are far less likely to be serving time for violent crimes than male prisoners, only about one third of the women in state prisons are serving time for acts of violence. Violent crimes committed by women are more likely to be defensive or retaliatory. The majority of women’s crimes are either directly or indirectly linked to addiction. Addressing the need to insure appropriate security, HB 3891 requires that IDOC must provide adequate personnel to monitor the woman during transport and while she is at the hospital.

Call or write your legislators to let them know you support HB 3891 which will end the medieval practice of chaining pregnant women to their beds. Let them know that you support alternative sentencing programs designed to keep families together while providing programming to help mothers become responsible, caring parents. Tell them too that you are against the other punitive provisions that were proposed in the "prison reform" legislation. It is not unlikely that some of these draconian measures will resurface in future legislative sessions. Keep yourself informed about what your legislators promote as effective "crime policy" and make sure they know what you think. Taking an active part in dismantling the prison industrial complex is the best way to welcome these babies home and insure that they do not become the next generation of prisoners.

Online Forevermah

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Re: Ending The Medieval Practice Of Chaining Pregnant Women To Beds
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2009, 07:34:10 AM »
Can you please supply the link to this topic. Thank you!
Do not value the "things" you have in your life - value "who" you have in your life....



“Instead of thinking about what you're missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.”

Offline RT

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Re: Ending The Medieval Practice Of Chaining Pregnant Women To Beds
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2009, 07:53:57 AM »
Here is a copy of Illinois Statute. Thought it might be interesting to some.


730 ILCS 5/3‑6‑7)
    Sec. 3‑6‑7. Pregnant female committed persons. Notwithstanding any other statute, directive, or administrative regulation, when a pregnant female committed person is brought to a hospital from an Illinois correctional center for the purpose of delivering her baby, no handcuffs, shackles, or restraints of any kind may be used during her transport to a medical facility for the purpose of delivering her baby. Under no circumstances may leg irons or shackles or waist shackles be used on any pregnant female committed person who is in labor. Upon the pregnant female committed person's entry to the hospital delivery room, a correctional officer must be posted immediately outside the delivery room. The Department must provide for adequate personnel to monitor the pregnant female committed person during her transport to and from the hospital and during her stay at the hospital.
(Source: P.A. 91‑253, eff. 1‑1‑00.)




Rick
"Imprisonment has become the response of first resort to far too many of our social problems."
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Offline codyandbecca

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Re: Ending The Medieval Practice Of Chaining Pregnant Women To Beds
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2009, 12:08:52 PM »
http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/~kastor/ws-98/Shackled-Births.htm

This is what I found online when researching a article I found in the newspaper here. I hope this helps!!!

Online Forevermah

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Re: Ending The Medieval Practice Of Chaining Pregnant Women To Beds
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2009, 05:03:46 PM »
Becca, that's a dead link .. I thought maybe you had the link to the story you posted and where it came from.

Thanks
Mah
Do not value the "things" you have in your life - value "who" you have in your life....



“Instead of thinking about what you're missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.”