Stop the shackling of pregnant women - call your IL state rep today!

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.
One of CLAIM's clients had a late-term miscarriage (at 8 ½ months) after being brought to the hospital in a chain-belt, Chubb cuffs and leg irons in severe medical distress. Another had a still birth after being brought to the hospital in a chain-belt, cuffs and leg irons. Neither was ever charged with a violent offense, but current law permits corrections to transport women in full restraints in late pregnancy. Two of our witnesses who submitted written testimony suffered severe depression after going through the humiliation of delivering their babies in the presence of male officers, and describe this as the worst experience of their lives. Both were in pre-trial detention for very minor offenses with no history of violence. Neither had suffered depression after the births of their older children.    Please call your Illinois state representative. You can look up your rep at: http://www.elections.il.gov/DistrictLocator/DistrictOfficialSearchByAddress.aspx Put in your address and phone the Springfield office of your State Representative, listed at www.ilga.gov. Help us stop this human rights abuse against pregnant women!

 

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Quick Facts

  • More than 16,000 women go to jail annually in Cook County Jail and about 82% are mothers.
  • About 80% of women detained at Cook County Jail are charged with non-violent crimes and only 1.8% of the 3,100 women admitted to Illinois prisons in 2009 were classified as a high security risk.

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