ACLU of Maine Praises Lawmakers for Advancing Bill Aimed at Banning Shackling of Pregnant Women

Committee Also Asks Department of Corrections To Make Immediate Changes To Shackling Policy

Affiliate: ACLU of Maine
April 24, 2015 3:30 pm

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ACLU of Maine
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AUGUSTA – Today, the ACLU of Maine lauded members of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee after a majority voted to move forward LD 1013, a bill that would ban the practice of shackling pregnant prisoners during labor and delivery. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Anne Haskell (D-Portland). The committee also voted unanimously to send a letter to the Department of Corrections asking them to make immediate changes and to report back to the committee in January.

“We are very pleased that the committee has advanced this important bill and recognized the urgency of banning the shackling of pregnant women,” said Alison Beyea, executive director of the ACLU of Maine. “Every other state in New England has outlawed this dangerous and inhumane practice and it’s time that Maine follows suit.”

At last Friday’s hearing, lawmakers heard from medical professionals, faith leaders, advocates, and former prisoners about the health risks posed to a woman and her pregnancy if she is forced to go through labor, delivery, and postpartum recovery with shackles restraining her body movement.

The bill holds additional urgency as women make up the fastest growing population in Maine’s prisons. The bill contains exceptions for flight risks or to protect the safety of the woman, though most female prisoners in Maine are non-violent offenders who pose a low security risk, particularly during labor and postpartum depression. In states where shackling has been banned for pregnant prisoners, there has yet to be a single documented case of a women trying to escape or cause harm to anyone.

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