An inmate at Silverdale Correctional Facility in Tennessee has filed a federal lawsuit against the prison, Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond, and the Corrections Corporation of America because, she says, guards shackled her while she was in labor.
Charity Flerl says that being shackled to the bed while giving birth at a local hospital put her baby’s life and her own life at risk, and her attorney, Chris Clem, agrees.
"It's dangerous to the woman," said Clem. "It's dangerous to the unborn child to keep a woman going through this process shackled to a bed."
Flerl went into labor in September of last year, and prior to being transported to Erlanger Hospital to give birth, guards shackled her arms and legs. Upon arriving at the hospital, guards chained her to the bed and even left her shackled for hours after giving birth. Flerl’s baby was reportedly born with a microcephalic condition and heart issues, and the lawsuit says that the shackling increased her baby’s risk of health problems and birth defects.
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The federal lawsuit was filed against the prison, the Corrections Corporation of America, and Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond, but according to Hammond, the sheriff’s department had nothing to do with this incident.
"I have no clue why we would be named because she wasn't in our facility, we didn't take her to the hospital and we didn't shackle her," said Hammond after finding out he was being sued.
The CCA has yet to comment on the specifics of the case, but it did release a statement saying its officers always keep the health and safety of the inmates in mind during any given situation.
"While we are unable to speak to the specifics of this case, our dedicated, professional corrections staff is firmly committed to the health and safety of the inmates entrusted to our care,” said the CCA to News Channel 9.
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Clem says that ultimately, he and Flerl are hoping that the policy regarding shackling pregnant inmates is amended.
"Just change the policy,” said Clem. “Keep your armed security guards there, if you do have reason to think they're violent, fine maybe shackle them, but most of these prisoners are not there for violent offenses.”