Pregnant inmates can no longer be shackled

Bill heads to Gov. O'Malley's desk

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Pregnant women sentenced to prison can no longer be shackled while incarcerated, according to a measure passed by Maryland lawmakers.

The bill, which passed both chambers unanimously, is now headed for Gov. Martin O’Malley’s desk.

The American Civil Liberties Union applauded the passage in a release.

"This is a proud moment when Maryland is turning decisively away from the inhumane, dangerous, and unnecessary practice of shackling pregnant women" Sara Love, Public Policy Director for the ACLU, said in the release. "Maryland needs a statewide law to ensure that pregnant women are protected against this barbaric practice."

The bill imposes restrictions on shackling pregnant inmates who are in transport to a correctional facilities, or while in labor, delivery or recovery. The law would also make medical personnel responsible for determine when an pregnant or post-pregnancy inmate is healthy enough to be restrained by shackles.

Similar laws have been passed in 18 states, the release states.  

"Shackling women during labor is seen by many fair-minded people as a form of cruel and unusual punishment," said Del. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City) in the release.  "This law is an important and long overdue step away from dangerous and antiquated practices that dehumanize women."

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