Bill Passes Senate to Prevent Shackling Pregnant Prisoners in PA

The state Senate today unanimously passed a bill introduced by Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Delaware/Montgomery) that would prevent the shackling of pregnant prisoners in Pennsylvania during labor and delivery.

   Senate Bill 1074 would for the first time create a statewide procedural policy regarding shackling while a prisoner is in transit to a medical facility for delivery or other pregnancy-related complication as well as for a reasonable period of time post-delivery. Currently, that decision occurs at the local level, which Leach said adds to unnecessary confusion about a policy that should be tightly regulated.

 “This is common sense legislation that clears up an issue that should have been standardized years ago,” Leach said. “To endanger a woman and her unborn child during birth simply because she is under custody of the state is a misguided practice. I am hopeful that my colleagues in the House of Representatives will agree and will send this bill to the governor’s desk quickly.”

The bill would provide an exception that allows shackling if the corrections official believes there is a risk of flight or to the health and safety of medical personnel. In the event of such a risk, the bill would require the attending corrections official to report the circumstances leading to the decision to apply restraints.  If the decision was made on the county level, the report must then be given to the state Department of Corrections.

S.B. 1074 would also require that the Department of Corrections provide a yearly update to the governor detailing each instance of shackling made by a county or state prison.  That information would be made available for public review on the governor’s Web site.

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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