The Rhode Island ACLU today applauded the Department of Corrections (DOC) for adopting suggestions to strengthen proposed rules that will govern the use of restraints on pregnant prisoners. These new regulations, based on ACLU-drafted legislation passed last June, generally prohibit the use of handcuffs, shackles, and waist restraints on a pregnant inmate during transport, labor, delivery, and recovery. They also allow only “medically appropriate” restraints to be used during the second and third trimester of an inmate’s pregnancy. Most importantly, the changes adopted by the DOC make important clarifications regarding what restraints are appropriate during each stage of an inmate’s pregnancy and where information about the procedures should be made available to staff and inmates. These changes strengthen what is one of the strongest laws in the country protecting pregnant inmates.
Many of these changes were proposed in written testimony by the Rhode Island ACLU, Direct Action for Rights and Equality, National Council of Jewish Women of Rhode Island, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, Rhode Island NOW, Rhode Island Medical Society, Rhode Island State Nurses Association, and the Women’s Medical Center of RI in the beginning of January.
The ACLU commended the DOC for standing up for working to implement the new law in a way that best protects pregnant inmates.