Please call your state representative and urge a YES vote on House Bill 1958! More on how to do this is below.
House Bill 1958 protects pregnant women and their infants, and provides corrections with security guidelines and exceptions to insure public safety. Amendment 2 made compromises to accommodate the smaller staff of downstate sheriff departments. Due to intensive opposition from both Illinois corrections and the Illinois Sheriff's Association (see Striving to Stop the Shackling of Pregnant Women), Amendment 3 limits the bill to Cook County, but we will continue to work to expand the protections statewide. In essence, the bill means that:
- Leg irons, belly chains and similar restraints may not be used on pregnant women because they increase risk of harm or death to the mother and fetus.
- Handcuffs in front may be used on pregnant women during transport, as long as they are not in labor or pregnancy-related medical distress.
- Therapeutic restraints may be used whenever needed for pregnant inmates who are mentally ill.
- An annual report is required to cover instances of restraints used outside the framework, that is, when there are exceptional circumstances. It exempts handcuffs in front used throughout pregnancy. We need government transparency to stop abuses.
- Officers must be posted outside the hospital room AFTER doing a security check and are to make periodic security checks. They may be in the room whenever requested by medical personnel.