This Washington


By Josh Cohen January 19, 2010

If you think pregnant inmates need to be shackled with leg irons during pregnancy, your voice was sorely missed in Olympia on Monday.

The House Human Services committee held a hearing on Tacoma Rep. Jeannie Darneille's (D-27) bill to outlaw shackling female inmates at correctional facilities during their third trimester, while in labor, or postpartum.

The hearing saw testimony from a dozen or so supporters including medical professionals, non-profit workers, concerned citizens, and a women who was shackled and mistreated while giving birth as an inmate. They testified that inmates in labor pose zero flight risk, that it's cruel to shackle a woman during such a spiritually and emotionally important event, and it poses medical risks to the woman and child.

There was no real oppositional testimony to speak of. Some law enforcement lobbyists, like Jo Arlow of the Washington Association of Sheriffs & Police Chiefs raised concerns about the language of the bill. She said there are rare circumstances where restraint might be necessary for safety's sake (though she couldn't actually produce an example of such a case when asked), but overall her group supports the bill.
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