Sunday, July 1, 2012

Former Inmate Speaks Out, Sues for Being Shackled While in Labor

Former Inmate Speaks Out, Sues for Being Shackled While in Labor

By Lauren Kelley, AlterNet

Posted on June 30, 2012, Printed on July 1, 2012

Valerie Nabors, a former inmate of the Florence McClure Women's Correctional Center, is suing the Nevada Department of Corrections over allegations that she was shackled while in labor, in violation of state law and against the advice of medical professionals. KTNV reports:

She told Action News officers shackled her legs as she went to the hospital to give birth, even though medical personnel strongly discouraged it.

"She [an ambulance EMT] explained to him, you can't do this because I still have to check her and he just said 'oh well' and proceeded to put the leg shackles on and went back into the facility," explained Nabors.

Her attorney Staci Pratt, with the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, said, "When you shackle a woman at her ankles, making it difficult for medical personnel to check her, you're sending a message that our primary obligation in society is not taking care of women, but to punish them needlessly and I think it's cruel and sadistic."

Nabors said, even at the hospital, officers continued to push for the shackles.

But wait, there's more:

She said when she returned to the correctional facility after giving birth, workers took away everything the hospital gave her, including her prescribed breast pump, which is a whole other portion of the lawsuit.

Given that shackling inmates while in labor is banned in Nevada (as it should be everywhere!), it seems that this is a pretty clear-cut violation of Nabors' legal rights, not to mention her fundamental human rights.

As inhuman as the practice sounds, shackling inmates who are in labor is a longstanding practice in many American prisons -- a practice that rights groups have worked hard to overturn, with some (though not enough) successes in recent years.

Nabors may have violated the law when she stole $250 worth of casino chips, landing her in prison. But what on earth did she do to deserve being tied down while on the verge of giving birth?

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