Thursday, March 02, 2006
Adam Liptak, "Prisons Often Shackle Pregnant Inmates in Labor," in today's New York Times.
Shawanna Nelson, a prisoner at the McPherson Unit in Newport, Ark., had been in labor for more than 12 hours when she arrived at Newport Hospital on Sept. 20, 2003. Ms. Nelson, whose legs were shackled together and who had been given nothing stronger than Tylenol all day, begged, according to court papers, to have the shackles removed.
Though her doctor and two nurses joined in the request, her lawsuit says, the guard in charge of her refused.
"She was shackled all through labor," said Ms. Nelson's lawyer, Cathleen V. Compton. "The doctor who was delivering the baby made them remove the shackles for the actual delivery at the very end."
Despite sporadic complaints and occasional lawsuits, the practice of shackling prisoners in labor continues to be relatively common, state legislators and a human rights group said. Only two states, California and Illinois, have laws forbidding the practice.
The New York Legislature is considering a similar bill. Ms. Nelson's suit, which seeks to ban the use of restraints on Arkansas prisoners during labor and delivery, is to be tried in Little Rock this spring.
What can I say? The thing speaks for itself.
I'm presently away from home, but on my return I intend to communicate with my state and local representatives to inquire about how pregnant incarcerated women are treated in Pennsylvania.
I'll be doing that first thing on Monday morning. Right now, however, I require a very stiff drink.