Skip to main content

Resolve Pertaining to the Human Rights and Healthcare for Women in Prison and the Dangerous Policies and Inconsistent Practice of Shackling Women Prisoners During Labor and Delivery

WHEREAS, s hackling incarcerated pregnant women is a common degrading practice in the United States. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, out of the 200,000 women in United States prisons or jails each year, approximately 6% (12,000) are pregnant at the time they are incarcerated; and 

WHEREAS, e i g h t e e n ( 1 8 ) states have laws that prohibit or restrict the shackling of pregnant prisoners (AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, HI, ID, LA, MA, NM, NV, NY, PA, RH, TX, VT, WA, and WV); and 

WHEREAS, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, along with leading experts in maternal, fetal and child care all strongly oppose it; and 

WHEREAS, in regards to formulating policies and restrictions on the use of shackles, the American Medical Association has decided to support the restriction on the use of restraints of any kind on a women in labor, delivering her baby or recuperating from delivery unless the woman is an immediate risk and/or a serious threat to herself or a substantial flight risk; and 

WHEREAS, the American Medical Association also supports restrictions on the shackling of pregnant prisoners in the second and third trimesters; and 

WHEREAS, the American Public Health Association also recommends that women never be shackled during labor and delivery; and during the final stages of labor it is important for the physician to act quickly in order to avoid potentially life-threatening emergencies for both the mother and the unborn child. Shackles severely limit the physician's ability to expeditiously act and as such pose a threat to the survival of the fetus; and 

WHEREAS, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Marshals Service, and the American Correctional Association all have policies that limit the use of shackles, these policies tend to interfere with the medical staff's abilities to appropriately assist in childbirth. When or if a C-section is required a five- minute delay to remove shackles could possibly cause permanent brain damage to the baby.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the NAACP opposes the dangerous, degrading, and abusive practice of shackling women prisoners during labor and delivery; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP encourages all units to work closely with their Municipal, State and Federal officials and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to identify current shackling policies during labor and delivery; and 

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that NAACP units advocate for administrative changes and legislation to correct the dangerous and harmful effects that shackling has on pregnant prisoners and their babies.