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The Health Births for Incarcerated Women Act takes effect July 1, 2014. This law prohibits the use of a physical restraints on an inmate while the inmate is in labor or during delivery in certain circumstances. But don’t sit back, there is still work ahead! You should know, that during the last hours of the bill process important provisions were removed that would require outside documentation and monitoring of implementation of the law. Also removed from the bill was clear language protecting women in pretrial detention (jails) across the state. Without clear directives for both medical and correctional staff, transparency and accountability in progress on implementation, and protections for each and every detained or incarcerated women across the state, we cannot stop!
Maryland Moving Forward Network (MMFN), a statewide network supporting progressive environmental and social campaigns has taken on the the shackling issue in Maryland. On March 3rd they launched their campaign and petition opposing the practice of shackling pregnant incarcerated women. The campaign included twitter, facebook, and email blasts reaching tens of thousands of individuals around the state of Maryland. In just several days 1,000 people signed the petition. The signatures that they collect will be combined with previously gathered signatures to forward to lawmakers to encourage policy change in the State of Maryland. A lively conversation, with supporters of change as well as those who fear change, is ongoing on the MMFN facebook page.
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC) released its report, “No More Shackles: A report on the written policies of California’s counties under the new law that limits the use of restraints on pregnant prisoners.”
In 2012, LSPC worked with Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins to enact legislation that prohibits the most dangerous forms of restraint from being used on any pregnant incarcerated woman (Penal Code §3407). This new law bans leg irons, waist chains, and handcuffs behind the back, and Governor Brown signed it September 28, 2012.
In March 2013, LSPC embarked on a project to determine whether all 58 California counties had written new policies on the shackling of pregnant prisoners to comply with the 2012 legislation. The report explains the new statute, describes LSPC’s efforts to obtain documentation from the counties, outlines our findings, and makes recommendations for additional legislation, regulation, and research.
The report verifies that 21 counties have policies in total compliance with the law. However, they are concerned that almost two-thirds of the counties in California, 34 of 58, still have written policies that do not fully comply with the law one year after it went into effect.
The Maryland Statement of Opposition has been signed by nearly 100 individuals and organizations in Maryland and beyond. The breadth of signatories speaks volumes about the extent of support to stop this harmful practice in Maryland. Organizational supporters include healthcare organizations, local service providers who work with women, legal organizations, faith-based organizations, student groups, and local and national women’s rights organizations, among others. Individuals from Maryland and across the country have also signed on in support, including health care professionals, social workers, academics, judges, and everyday citizens who object to the practice of shacklingpregnant women who are incarcerated. Read the statement here (PDF): Opposition_statement_final 022513