NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A bill (SB 2769) being considered on the floor of the Senate would finally ban a correctional institution from using restraints on pregnant prisoners.
Some lawmakers say the bill to stop it has been long overdue. “It will end shackling of women who are incarcerated and are pregnant,” said Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis).
The new law could address the detention of pregnant women to ensure they’re not undergoing undue additional stress.
“There have been several incidents in local jails, including in Davidson County, where it’s really damaged the health of the mother and the baby,” Akbari said.
If passed, jails and prisons will be prohibited from shackling pregnant detainees on state and local levels, including during labor, transport to a medical facility, delivery, and postpartum.
“The use of restraints while someone is giving birth, not only is it dehumanizing, but it’s also dangerous—it puts the woman in a position that could be potentially fatal for herself or the child,” Akbari said.
And for those who say there shouldn’t be special treatment for criminals following an arrest, Senator Akbari says it boils down to health. “I think it has to do with health and safety, and we’ve worked with law enforcement to get the best possible bill where they don’t feel that they’re unable to restrain the prisoner in a safe manner that keeps everyone safe.”
The bill would also mandate annual training for corrections employees who supervise or transport female inmates.
There are exceptions to the no shackles bill, including if the person in custody poses a flight risk, immediate self-harm to themselves, or the unborn child, or if they are part of a classification in jail that requires the use of restraints.