Thursday, March 02, 2006

Prisons Often Shackle Pregnant Inmates in Labor - New York Times

Prisons Often Shackle Pregnant Inmates in Labor - 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.

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Mark Allen Johnson/ZUMA Press

Laura Strange, a California inmate, shackled to her bed before the state enacted a law banning the practice during labor, delivery and recovery.

Though her doctor and two nurses joined in the request, her lawsuit says, the guard in charge of her refused.

"It is unbelievable that in this day and age a child is born to a woman in shackles," Mr. Erato said. "It sounds like something from slavery 200 years ago."

In most cases, people who have studied the issue said, women are shackled because prison rules are unthinkingly exported to a hospital setting.

"This is the perfect example of rule-following at the expense of common sense," said William F. Schulz, the executive director of Amnesty International U.S.A. "It's almost as stupid as shackling someone in a coma."


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