Our Bodies, Our Blog

Gov. Schwarzenegger Vetoes Anti-Shackling Bill

By Rachel Walden |

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed AB 1900, a bill requiring the Corrections Standards Authority to develop standards on the shackling of pregnant women, and to prohibit pregnant inmates from being shackled by the wrists or ankles during transport, labor and delivery, and recovery, unless deemed necessary for safety.

The veto is somewhat surprising, because the bill was approved unanimously every time it came up for a vote in the state Senate and Assembly.

The Governor argued in his veto that the bill “would require the Corrections Standards Authority (CSA) to develop guidelines concerning the shackling of pregnant inmates and wards during transport. However, CSA’s mission is to regulate and develop standards for correctional facilities, not establish policies on transportation issues to and from other locations.”

I’m no expert on the correctional system in California, so I don’t know whose job it would be to set standards on inmate transport if it is not the CSA’s. Do any of our California readers have any insight on this?

In a commentary for the San Francisco Chronicle, Karen Shain of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children called the veto “particularly mean spirited” and described the bill as “an inexpensive solution to a human rights problem.”

Jodi Jacobson at RH Reality Check has additional commentary. Please also see our previous posts on the shackling of pregnant inmates for further background and discussion.

Washington State Bans Shackling of Incarcerated Women in Labor and Post-Delivery

By Rachel Walden |

Washington state Gov. Chris Gregoire last week signed into law a bill that forbids the routine shackling of pregnant women in and after labor, making it one of a handful of states that ban the practice.

The law, which takes effect June 10, states that no restraints of any kind may be used on a pregnant woman during transporation to and from medical visits or court proceedings during the third trimester of pregnancy or during postpartum recovery. It also stipulates that “no restraints of any kinds may be … More

Anti-Shackling Bill Passed by New York State Legislature

By Rachel Walden |

A bill that would prohibit the shackling of pregnant, incarcerated women in labor has passed both the New York state House and Assembly (A03373/SO1290) and is on its way to the governor for a signature.

The bill allows women to be cuffed by one wrist during transfer if they are deemed to be a risk to themselves or others, or a flight risk, but otherwise forbids any mechanical restraint during transport, when a woman is in labor, “admitted to a hospital, institution … More

Double Dose: Women and the Olympics – the Good, the Bad and the Creepy; Connecting the Dots to a Crisis Pregnancy Center; Shackling Pregnant Inmates in Labor OK in Arkansas; Wait for Male Birth Control Continues; Cars and the Cure for Breast Cancer …

By Christine Cupaiuolo |

Back from a cross-country drive and catching up on lots of stories. Let the games begin …

Once Banned, Women Now Centerstage at Games: Writing in The New York Times, Jere Longman describes the debut of Mali’s women’s basketball team — each player received a house and prize money for winning the 2007 African championships and qualifying for Beijing — and the increasing popularity and respect for women athletes overall. Of the 11,427 athletes participating in this year’s Olympics, 4,845 are women.

“Everybody is proud … More

How Do You Afford Healthcare in Prison on 50 Cents Per Hour?

By Rachel Walden |

Women entering prisons often have poor physical health, in part due to poverty and lack of access to treatment for concerns such as addiction, abuse and mental health. An article in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved looks at a different aspect of the health of incarcerated women: how healthcare systems in prison create further harm.

For “Factors Contributing to Poor Physical Health in Incarcerated Women,” researchers Holly Harner and Suzanne Riley conducted 12 focus groups … More

Civil Rights Win in Case of Woman Shackled During Labor

By Rachel Walden |

In 2008, we wrote about the treatment of Juana Viilegas, who was shackled to a hospital bed during labor and after delivery, and denied access to her newborn or a breast pump in the days immediately after the birth.

Villegas was nine months pregnant and leaving a prenatal clinic with her three children when she was stopped by police. She did not have a driver’s license or auto insurance; Tennessee has recently made it much more difficult for immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. Because … More

Shackled During Labor: Nothing to Lose But Your Humanity

By Christine Cupaiuolo |

The image of pregnant women heading to the delivery room with handcuffs, leg shackles and belly chains is almost inconceivable. Yet as we have documented here before, it has been common practice in the United States prison system for decades and is still legal (and commonly practiced) in all but 10 states.

Efforts against shackling, led by a coalition that includes the ACLU and The Rebecca Project, have gained significant ground recently. Colorado, West Virginia, Washington state and Pennsylvania passed … More

Double Dose: The Reproductive Health, Rights and Technology Edition

By Christine Cupaiuolo |

Before I start a week-long vacation Aug. 3, I’m attempting to clear out my bookmarks by posting several theme round-ups this week.

An Abortion Battle, Fought to the Death: The New York Times takes an in-depth look at the life and work of Dr. George Tiller, and the longstanding battle against him and his abortion clinic that ended with Tiller’s murder in May.

David Barstow writes about Tiller’s committed stance — quoting the doctor as having said: “If a stake has to be driven … More

Double Dose: Pregnancy, Prison and HIV

By Christine Cupaiuolo |

Woman Shackled During Labor Sues State: A former inmate at the Washington Corrections Center for Women who was shackled while in labor is suing the state of Washington for violating her constitutional rights. Read the full complaint here (pdf).

The Seattle-based women’s rights organization Legal Voice filed the federal lawsuit last week on behalf of Casandra Brawley. According to the complaint, Brawley, who was serving a 14-month sentence for shoplifting, was shackled by a metal chain around her belly during … More

The Real Cost of Prison Comix

By Christine Cupaiuolo |

Prisoners of a Hard Life: Women and Their Children

PM Press has recently published “The Real Cost of Prisons Comix,” three comic books produced by the Real Cost of Prison Projects in one volume. The book includes:

“Prison Town: Paying the Price” tells the story of how the financing and site locations of prisons affects the people of rural communities in which prison are built as well as urban communities from where the majority of incarcerated people come from. Illustrated … More