Maui News

New Hawai’i Law Protects Pregnant Inmates From Shackling

July 6, 2011, 12:32 PM HST
* Updated July 6, 3:48 PM
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By Wendy Osher

Maui Community Correctional Center. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Governor Neil Abercrombie signed a bill into law that prohibits physically restraining inmates who are pregnant or in postpartum recovery, unless extraordinary circumstances exist.

Authorities with the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii (ACLU of Hawaii) applauded the passage and signing of bill.

“Shackling pregnant women without cause is cruel and unusual punishment, prohibited by the U.S. Constitution,” said Laurie Temple, ACLU of Hawaii staff attorney.  “Pregnant women need proper treatment for their physical conditions. We are very pleased that the Legislature and the Governor finally put an end to this practice,” she said.

Advocates of Senate Bill 219, now known as Act 174, claim the practice of forcibly shackling pregnant inmates can not only harm a woman’s health, but may also cause serious harm to a pregnancy–that they say could include potential for slowed fetal heartbeats, brain damage, or death.

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Hawai’i becomes the fourteenth state in the nation to restrict the shackling of pregnant inmates.

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The ACLU of Hawaii supports legislative, litigation, and public education programs statewide aimed at protecting what they call “fundamental freedoms.”

 

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