The Rebecca Project has worked very hard to end the draconian practice of shackling mothers
behind bars during labor and birth. We are very pleased to share with you significant progress:
1) Senator Durbin during the Senator
Judiciary's mark-up of the Second Chance Act made the following statement:
"The use of certain types of restraints on pregnant women can be
profoundly dangerous to the health of the mother and the child, particularly
when restraints are used during labor or childbirth. The American College of Obstetricians and
Gynecologists has said that such restraints "have made the labor and delivery
process more difficult than it needs to be, thus overall putting the health and
lives of the women and unborn children at risk."
Reports of shackling of pregnant inmates are particularly troubling
because most female inmates are incarcerated for non-violent crimes, and are
not a credible security or escape risk.
The application of shackles or restraints on pregnant inmates has
already been prohibited by my state of Illinois, as well as by California. According to the Illinois Department of
Corrections, no adverse security
incidents have occurred involving unrestrained pregnant inmates since this
state law went into effect in 2000.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons has worked with me in good faith to seek
changes to their policies that will clarify that restraints should not be used
on pregnant prisoners except as a last resort for security purposes. And they are also working with me to make
clear that if restraints are used, they should not be belly chains, constricting
belts, or face-down restraints. I appreciate the BOP's willingness to work with
me on this important issue, and want to acknowledge that most of the stories
about the use of shackles on pregnant inmates have involved state and local
2) During the Senate Judiciary Committee's mark-up
of the Second Chance Act, a reporting requirement was included such that all federal
correctional facilities must report on the number of incarcerated women
shackled or restrained during labor and delivery. The Second Chance Act, with
the reporting provision, successfully passed out of Committee on 8/2/07.
3) The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has agreed to ban
belly shackles and other restraints that are constrictive to the stomach region
in the transport of pregnant offenders, and during a pregnant offender's
delivery and birth of her child.