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News Link • Criminal Justice System

Nationwide, States Move to Ban Shackling

• Valeria Fernández
 PHOENIX, Ariz. – A movement to ban the use of shackling women detainees while pregnant or in labor is growing across the United States. And it’s drawing support from conservatives and progressives alike, who denounce the practice as tantamount to torture.

Lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle in states as far ranging as Arizona, Florida, Iowa and Massachusetts have gotten behind bills either to curb or prohibit the use of restraints on female prisoners, fueling a larger nationwide trend.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has long decried the practice as a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment.” In states where there are no policies restricting their use, however, the shackling of pregnant women during labor or post partum is “done as a matter of routine,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, a staff attorney for the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project.

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