The time is now--stop shackling of pregnant women

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Tamaya Garcia of the Center for Young Women's Development
Last year, Strong Families supported The Center for Young Women's Development, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and the ACLU of Northern California as they worked to pass a bill that would prevent pregnant women for being shackled in California's prisons.

They successfully moved their bill through the California State Assembly and Senate, and it sat on then Governor Schwarzenegger's desk for what seemed like forever before he vetoed it, much to our dismay.

The bill wouldn't have cost the state any money, but it would go a long way toward preventing injuries and undue humiliation and suffering for women who are pregnant and giving birth while incarcerated.

This year, a powerful crew of organizers took up the bill, again through the Women's Policy Institute of the Women's Foundation of California. They once again soared through the Assembly and the Senate, and again the bill sits on the Governor's desk, awaiting a signature.
The bill received almost no public opposition, as it is hard to make the case that pregnant women post a flight risk, or that it is ok to shackle pregnant women.

Let's not let another year go by with this barbaric practice in place. Tell Governor Brown we want California join the many states who are joining the Federal prison system in outlawing this practice.

There is a powerful story in today's Daily Beast about the national effort to end the shackling of pregnant women. For a detailed look at the situation faced by pregnant women and mothers in the US prison system, check out Mothers Behind Bars, a report by the Rebecca Project for Human Rights and the National Women's Law Center.

For a sample of the OpEd's last year's team helped generate, read this powerful piece by the Center for Young Women's Development staffer LeaJay Harper, or this OpEd that ran in the SF Chronicle by Ob-Gyn Carolyn Sufrin about her experience delivering babies for incarcerated women.

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