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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

WA bill seeks to limit shackling pregnant inmates



OLYMPIA, Wash. -- On the day she gave birth, Kimberly Hays was shackled to a bed with a nurse's hand over her mouth to muffle her screams of pain, the former inmate told state lawmakers Tuesday.

"It's like an animal giving birth before its masters," said Hays, describing a scene in which a male guard stood over her and the nurse told her to "shut up" while in labor.

Hays, who was serving time at the Washington Corrections Center for Women on drug charges, testified Tuesday before the state Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee. The panel is considering a measure that would restrict the use of restraints, including handcuffs and leg shackles, on pregnant inmates.

The proposal would ban the use of all shackles on female inmates in the third trimester of pregnancy and are being transported to medical care, court proceedings or are in labor. It would also restrict use of restraints, which include handcuffs, on women in the first or second trimester.

The measure was proposed after a former inmate sued the state last year, saying her constitutional rights were violated when she was shackled while in labor…

WA bill seeks to limit shackling pregnant inmates

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