Bill Would Ban Shackling Pregnant Federal Inmates

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Former federal inmate Pamela Winn was shackled while she was pregnant. She was injured in a fall, and she suffered a miscarriage during long delays in seeking medical treatment, reports Reason. This week, members of Congress proposed a bill that aims to make sure what happened to Winn never happens to anyone else. Co-sponsored by a majority of Democratic and Republican women in the House, the bill would ban the shackling and solitary confinement of pregnant inmates in the federal prison system. The Pregnant Women in Custody Act, introduced by Reps. Karen Bass (D–CA), Mia Love (R–UT) and Catherine Clark (D–MA), would ban the use of restraints and restrictive housing on female inmates during pregnancy, during labor, and post-partum. It would set standards of care for pregnant female inmates.

“In the United States in 2018, the idea that we would actually shackle a pregnant women to a gurney while she is delivering a baby is really egregious,” Bass says. The federal Bureau of Prisons bans the shackling of female inmates in most instances, but there is no federal law against the practice. It’s banned in all but six states, but the practice reportedly persists even where it’s supposedly illegal. Winn describes her experience as horrific. “During the miscarriage, to hear people trying to figure out if they should call 911 or call the Marshals, that’s reinforcement to me that there should be some sort of protocols in place,” she says. “At that point I was concerned if I was going to live, because I’m bleeding out and these people don’t know even what to do with me.”

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