human rights


Vetoed: A Bill That Would Ban Shackling Pregnant Inmates During Labor

Granted, it’s hard to get inside the head of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to glean his thought process. But really, how could anyone possibly veto a bill to stop the deeply troubling practice of shackling pregnant female inmates in labor and during childbirth?

A California bill prohibiting the shackling of female inmates during childbirth is vetoed by the governor

This post on Our Bodies, Our Blog, lays out the details of the veto, but it’s just mind-blowing that this practice continues legally in some U.S. states — particularly because the California bill, AB1900, was approved unanimously by the state Senate and Assembly. The law would have required the state Corrections Standards Authority to develop standards on the shackling of pregnant women, and prohibited pregnant inmates from being shackled by the wrists or ankles during transport, labor and delivery, and recovery, unless deemed necessary for safety.

Karen Shain, policy director for the California group, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, wrote in an opinion piece in SFGate: “This veto is particularly mean spirited and only serves to support the stereotype that incarcerated women are dangerous and must be subdued at all times. During these horrendous budget times, when there is a steadily shrinking safety net, AB1900 was an inexpensive solution to a human rights problem.”