D.C. Councilman David Grosso Introduces Bill That Would Stop Shackling of Pregnant Inmates

| by Dominic Kelly
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Female inmates who are pregnant may soon face less restraint if a new bill in D.C. passes.

David Grosso, Independent At-Large Councilmember in Washington, introduced the bill that seeks to end the shackling of pregnant inmates.

"This is one of those issues that's a no brainer," said Grosso. "The reality is that when a woman is in childbirth, labor, or in recovery from such a situation the chance of her fleeing, or running away, or hurting somebody is pretty minimal."

In a recent blog post, Grosso continued to explain why it is so important that this bill be passed.

“Women who are about to enter the criminal justice system must be educated about their rights while they are in prison,” he wrote. “They should be afforded the appropriate care and should not be subject to any kind of shackling or restraint while they are experiencing labor or delivery.  This is a basic human right and it is our duty as civic leaders to stand behind all members of our community.”

While Grosso makes clear that the total number of pregnant women that have been shackled in D.C. over the last decade isn’t that high, he believes that it shouldn’t happen to anyone ever again. 

“My bill would ensure that no woman is shackled during her pregnancy or for up to a six-week period during post-partum recovery,” continues Grosso in his blog post. “This measure will ensure both the safety of the mother and of the fetus.  There is always a concern for balancing the safety of our corrections officers, the mothers, and the fetus.  In this circumstance, I do not believe that laboring women are a flight risk.”

According to the ACLU, only 18 states still shackle women inmates that are pregnant, but due to the health risks associated with doing this, more have and are trying to put an end to it.

Lawmakers introduced the bill this week, and many hope it will pass soon.