Pregnant Florida Inmates Might Not Have to Worry About Being Shackled While They Give Birth

​Yesterday, the state Senate unanimously passed the "Healthy Pregnancies for Incarcerated Women Act," which prohibits "use of restraints on a prisoner known to be pregnant during labor, delivery and postpartum recovery." A matching bill was introduced in the House yesterday, where opposition is expected to be sparse and very stupid.

Tampa Democratic Rep. Betty Reed originally introduced the bill in the House's previous session, but it died without a vote by the time it adjourned, according to the Florida Independent. The bill was introduced in reaction to Florida's status as one of seven states to get a grade of "F" for its pregnant inmate shackling policies in a 2010 report called "Mothers Behind Bars" from the Rebecca Project for Human Rights.

The Florida Department of Corrections responded to the report with a written statement that said it "does not shackle or otherwise restrain female inmates in any stage of labor. ... After delivery is complete, inmates are tethered to their beds by one ankle," presumably to prevent them from waddling away to freedom.

The actual shackling, however, is only a section of the failing grade -- the state got zeros in all seven categories in the restraints section of the rubric dealing with state policies on who gets shackled, who gets to decide and who gets training to deal with pregnant inmates -- the answers, in order, being "everybody," "anybody" and "nobody." So a few guidelines might do everybody some good -- if we've learned anything from the "inmate with the amputated penis story," it's that the FDOC is not exactly bursting with medically savvy individuals.

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