Bill Would Ban Shackling of Pregnant Inmates in Labor

May 5 2010, 10:52 AM

In February, an investigation in the Boulder Weekly found that pregnant women in Colorado jails and prisons are sometimes shackled to their beds as they give birth. When lawmakers didn’t respond to her story, Weekly editor Pamela White took an unusual step: She sent her article to them, along with supporting research. State Senator Evie Hudak, a Westminster Democrat, was among those who asked White to help draft a bill. White did so, and with just days to go in the legislative session, the bill is now making strides toward becoming a law. Yesterday, the Colorado Senate gave initial approval to the bill, which would ban leg shackles and waist restraints on female inmates during childbirth, while limiting the use of other restraints during delivery, according to The Associated Press. The bill would only allow restraints to be used if officials think the woman poses an immediate threat to medical staff and would require detailed records on how long the restraints were used. Senator Keith King, a Colorado Springs Republican, says he backs the bill because the state has a vested interest in protecting the health of mothers and babies from problems that can arise from giving birth in restraints, according to the The Gazette. White testified in favor of the legislation and later tells the Gazette: "It’s about unchaining troubled women whose lives are already complicated. It’s also about their babies. Their babies are guilty of nothing, and their babies are doing time with them."

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