ACTION ALERT: S221/A4115 Preventing Restrained Prison Child Birth

S221/A4155 would prohibit the restraint of women prisoners during and immediately after childbirth. Under the bill, correctional facility staff or medical providers would not be permitted to apply restraints to a female prisoner known to be pregnant during any stage of labor, any pregnancy related medical distress, transport to a medical facility, delivery, or postpartum.

Over the last 15 years, 21 states have enacted laws against shackling pregnant inmates during and after labor, but many of the laws have proved ineffectual. It is estimated that about 2,000 prisoners in American correctional facilities give birth each year. “To physically restrain any woman immediately before, during or after the critical time of active child labor is entirely inhumane, not to mention recklessly dangerous for both the mother and child,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex), the bill’s sponsor. “Incarcerated women are no less human than others, and this unsafe practice must be prohibited in New Jersey.”

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The bill cleared the Senate with a vote of 39-0 on March 16, 2015 and the Assembly on January 11, 2016 with a vote of 75-0. It now heads to the Governor’s desk where it will be pocket vetoed if he does not take action before Tuesday, January 19 at noon. Please write or call the governor, 609-292-6000, today and urge him to sign this humane legislation.

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