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Pregnant and Cuffed

Can you place your baby for adoption while in jail?  

I have been in many hospital rooms while the patient is shackled to her bed with a jail guard close by. “K’s” adoption plan was about to take place. When I walked in, she was cradling her baby as tears ran down her cheeks. She said, it must be time to say goodbye since you are here. I let her know the attorney had arrived and asked if she was ready and still wanted to pursue an adoption plan. She understood that the prospective adoptive parents were not allowed to visit her or the baby until she was discharged, jail rules. She asked me if they were excited and asked if I would take her picture with the baby to keep for her. She adjusted herself in the bed, flipped the hospital blanket over the shackle, fixed her hair and kissed her baby as I took pictures. “K” was no different than any other woman that I had supported the day of consent signing. What I did not realize was this was the last time in Indiana a woman would be shackled as she said goodbye to her baby. This is a win for women!  

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed a law this year (2022) making Indiana the latest state to ban the widely condemned practice of shackling pregnant prisoners during childbirth. The bill passed unanimously in both the Indiana House and Senate. 

The change means Indiana has joined with growing efforts around the country to bring practices within all American correctional facilities in line with recommendations for the humane treatment of prisoners. The United Nations guidelines for the minimum standards for treatment of prisoners requires that “instruments of restraint shall never be used … during labor, during birth and immediately after birth.” Similarly, the American Medical Association calls shackling during childbirth “a barbaric practice that needlessly inflicts excruciating pain and humiliation.” 

The United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world. Women have become the fastest-growing gender group within that population, where black women are almost twice as likely to be incarcerated as white women, according to a 2019 report based on data from 2017 from the Sentencing Project, a research and advocacy group focusing on racial disparities in crime and punishment. 


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