Currently Maine is failing when it comes to health of pregnant inmates
AUGUSTA – A measure that would ban the practice of shackling pregnant incarcerated women received broad support at the public hearing in the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee today.
The bill, LD 1013, “An Act to Prevent the Shackling of Pregnant Prisoners,” would prohibit the shackling of pregnant women in Maine prisons and jails, except under extraordinary circumstances. In the case that restraints are used, the bill stipulates that the corrections official must document the instance that required the use of restraints.
“By shackling pregnant woman we are putting the health and safety of the mother and child at risk,” said Senator Anne Haskell of Portland, the sponsor of the bill. “No where in the state of Maine should we be shackling pregnant woman, whether they are incarcerated or not.”
Shackling has been shown to increase a woman’s chances of falling which can be harmful to their pregnancy and interfere with the administration of proper care.
According to the ACLU, 25 states currently restrict the use of restraints on pregnant prisoners; and Maine is the only state in New England with no laws banning or limiting the practice of shackling pregnant women.
Many national correctional, medical, and human rights organizations oppose the shackling of pregnant women, including the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Association, and the National Commission on Correctional Health Care.
“This dangerous and inhumane practice has no place here in Maine,” added Senator Haskell. “The Eighth Amendment of our Constitution explicitly prohibits such cruel or unusual punishment.”
Doctors, former inmates, the ACLU of Maine, Family Crisis Network, Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition, the Christian Civic League, Maine Women’s Lobby, Coalition for Maine Women, and the Maine Family Planning Association, among others testified in support of the measure.
The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will be holding a work session on LD 1013, “An Act to Prevent the Shackling of Pregnant Prisoners,” in the coming weeks.