Massachusetts House unanimously passes anti-shackling legislation

The following is taken from a press release from the Speaker of the House, Robert A. DeLeo’s Office. The bill prohibits shackling of pregnant inmates and mandates proper prenatal, labor and delivery care – Tim

(BOSTON) – Representative Tim Toomey joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to pass a bill that prohibits the shackling of pregnant women after their first trimester and forbids the use of certain restraints on a pregnant or postpartum inmate.

This bill ensures that all incarcerated women have access to labor and delivery care in an accredited hospital and requires that they are afforded with a minimum of a forty-eight hour hospital stay following delivery. Additionally, under this legislation, all inmates must receive prenatal, delivery and postpartum care including dietary and nutritional care.

“The practice of shackling pregnant inmates is bad for mothers, bad for children, and with the exception of some rare and extreme cases, serves no useful purpose in the criminal justice system,” said Representative Tim Toomey (D-Cambridge). “We cannot expect incarcerated women to change their behavior when they are outside of prison if the treatment they receive in prison worsens their physical and mental health and that of their children. I am happy to say that the bill passed by the House will contribute to safer pregnancy outcomes for these prisoners and prevent their children from being punished for crimes they had nothing to do with.”

“This legislation will put Massachusetts’ on the forefront of health care for incarcerated women,” House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop) said. “We have an obligation to ensure that children born to inmates enter this world with the proper care and that mothers receive the resources they need to deliver healthy children. I’m proud that the House took this step which I believe will reduce prevent trauma and physical harm.”

“I am incredibly proud that the House has passed this ‘anti-shackling’ bill and that we are on the path to ensuring this dangerous and unnecessary practice will be eliminated in the Commonwealth,” Representative Kay Khan (D-Newton), Chair of the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities. “By establishing one uniform standard that protects the health of all pregnant and post-partum incarcerated women, we can reduce physical and psychological traumas in both mothers and children by providing all pregnant inmates with the appropriate medical treatment throughout the pregnancy, during delivery and in post-partum follow-up care.”

The bill also includes the following provisions:

• Requires that pregnant inmates receive written information on child birth, correctional facility policies and practices regarding care and labor, post-discharge planning, medical services and mental health screening and counseling;

• Instructs that if a correction officer is present in the room during the pregnant inmate’s physical examinations, labor or childbirth, the officer shall, if possible, be female. Whenever possible, the correction officer shall be positioned in a location in the room that will ensure, to the extent feasible, patient privacy.

• Provides for the safe transportation of pregnant women to and from medical visits.

The bill passed the House unanimously.

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