Report: Dallas County Jail Still Shackling Those Oh-So-Dangerous Women in Labor

pregnant-inmate-500x380.jpg
When the contractions start, the restrictions end. In theory, anyway.
Chief Uterus Correspondent Anna Merlan is on assignment.

I know Anna usually handles the lady stuff, but if it's OK with you guys, I'm going to dispense some quick advice to the Female Friends of Unfair Park: If you gals have any plans to commit a felony that may cause you a longer-than-40-week stay in your local jail -- I mean, even an inkling that you might get fed up with the hubby's Fantasy Football obsession and wind up in a lengthy negligent homicide trial -- do not, under any circumstances, go and get yourself knocked up beforehand. Because according to a new report, the Dallas County Jail still doesn't quite have a handle on how to handle its most pregnant guests.

The report , which you'll find below, was published late last month by the ACLU of Texas and the nonprofit Texas Jail Project. It comes two years after lawmakers took up the cause of protecting pregnant inmates in the state's county jails -- who number about 500 at any given time. In two laws that took effect September 1, 2009, the legislature banned jail staff from restraining women in labor or delivery, and required prisons to write and implement procedures for caring for pregnant prisoners.

To see how jails were adapting to the new laws, activists conducted interviews and visited the state's largest county jails. They discovered varying degrees of compliance. In El Paso, jail officials have distributed fact sheets and conducted workshops to train deputies how to recognize labor (She's screaming and I don't see a shiv: Must be baby time!), and how to handle recovery. At other jails, the activists found, officials are failing to even regularly screen inmates for pregnancy, and are waiting too long to get the women seen by obstetricians. While El Paso County jail makes sure its pregnant prisoners get 4,000 calories a day -- more than the other inmates -- other jails take no measures to make sure pregnant women are getting the nutrition they need.

When it comes to shackling, the law has worked for the most part, the report claims. The ban "seems to have eliminated or at least suppressed the most horrific uses of restraints on women and delivery." That included "the practice of shackling together the legs of pregnant inmates," which is really a bad situation for everyone involved, including the shackles.

But Dallas stands out to the activists for its apparent dismissal of the ban. The Texas Jail Project continues to receive reports of inmates being restrained during labor, and jail officials admitted to interviewers that they still apply restraints "during transportation to the hospital and immediately after delivery," which is illegal.

Dallas County Sheriff's department officials did not return calls for comment. But activists' frustration seems to lie mostly with the state's Commission on Jail Standards.

Dallas "had some of the bigger red flags on the ways they handled some of this stuff," ACLU policy strategist Matthew Simpson told Unfair Park. "In order to ensure that everybody, including Dallas, is following these rules, the Commission on Jail Standards needs to make a requirement that jails document the use of shackles on pregnant women."

But hey, you're thinking, why would they document something that's illegal? And would they document with photos? Because that's kinda gross.

Well, there are exceptions to the no shackling rule. Jailers can restrain a woman in delivery if they believe it will protect mother or child. And, of course, they can still break out the shackles if there's a "substantial risk" of escape.

Although, let's be honest: If you can't catch an escaping prisoner who has a baby falling out of her, you should probably consider a career change.

ACLU/Texas Jail Project Report On Shackling Law Implementation


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43 comments
Theartisticpush
Theartisticpush

This is also policy when dealing with pregnant juvenile offenders. I escorted many young pregnant teens to parkland in shakles when they were in labor...

Boredbystandard
Boredbystandard

Ivebeen one of those detention officer who has had to shackle a woman during labor. It was worth it. even with shackles that wench grabbed hold of the doctor and knocked him out and tried to run the instant her shackles had been removed. When a person is desperate they will do desperate things and labor or no labor a criminal mind is scary and determined. Because of the struggle that ensued to get her back, she lost the baby and then had the gaul to try to sue the state because of it. Shackle away!

Total Dick
Total Dick

Bleeding-heart libtard horse shit.

Ian_Smith
Ian_Smith

bleeding-heart libtard horse shit

Tor
Tor

It will be really exciting when Texas joins the 19th century!

WilliamJohnston
WilliamJohnston

Are we forgetting that these women are felons, no matter their condition of pregnancy,  they are felons, women second. if you can't stand to see felons punished then leave and don't watch.Women are just as dangerous as men, some even more so.  When a person is convicted they  should lose all their rights as citizens, I am not saying that they should be treated less humanly as others, but they do not have the same rights in prison as they would have, if not in prison. So let's get real about how they are treated we still have to except a guard to  have a degree of safety while at work, The Guards  are doing a hard job, don't make it harder by crying about how prisoners are treated. shackles and handcuffs are for the protection of the guards and the people treating the felon. 

Dffdd
Dffdd

If one of those "ladies" had robbed from me or mugged me. Then I wouldnr care how they were treated whwn in labour. That was their choice.

Rob1
Rob1

how does shakling an inmate with a heart conditon any different than shackling an arm of a pregnant felon any different? For doctor safety. If Aileen woumous the serial killer was pregnant, would you let her be unshackled ? Good luck finding a doctor for her

Facebook User
Facebook User

How big an issue is this? Do you have any stats on the number of pregnant women in Texas jails?

Patti C
Patti C

GOLLY GEE, Dallas, Texas, powers-that-be don;t know much about laws. Well, the jail transports them to Parkland Memorial Hospital, which cannot follow laws about complaints or seclusion.And Dallas leads the nation in overturned wrongful convictions. Have other areas not been caught at it at yet or are we too d@mn vigilante?

Ian_Smith
Ian_Smith

So fucking what.  I shit on you bleeding-heart libtards.

TexanBornNRaised
TexanBornNRaised

I don't have much sympathy for these women, so I'm indifferent as to whether or not they're "shackled" during labor/delivery. They also cuff criminals to hospital beds, so I don't really see the difference here.

rubbercow
rubbercow

Dude, you never know when an un-shackled preggo could shoot a baby at you.  Safety first!

Singe
Singe

"When a person is convicted they should lose all their rights as citizens"

Because nobody is EVER convicted of a crime they didn't commit, right?

"I am not saying that they should be treated less humanly as others"

Uh, that's LITERALLY what you just wrote in the sentence immediately preceding this one.

purplepenquin
purplepenquin

Are you forgetting that most people in a County Jail haven't been convicted of anything at all, let alone a felony?

Rhonda Shea
Rhonda Shea

The point is not whether or not these women deserve this treatment, but that there is a law in place saying that women going through delivery should not be shackled. A law that many are apparently completely ignoring. It is ILLEGAL to be shackling a woman who  is going through labor for any but the most urgent reasons. THAT is the point.

Singe
Singe

What if "one of those 'ladies'" hadn't even committed a crime in the first place? Would you care then?

Singe
Singe

 Most female inmates aren't serial killers. Nice straw woman, though.

WilliamJohnston
WilliamJohnston

Good question-- seems like a woman in prison would not be likely to get pregnant. 

Morgan Feldon
Morgan Feldon

How big an issue is this? At least 7 lbs 8 oz.

Jailbirdie
Jailbirdie

Read the article; it states there are 500 pregnant women (not preggos but actual sisters, aunts, moms and daughters) on any given day, in all our county jails. And if just one of those is your loved one, it is a huge issue.

Guest
Guest

It's interesting to me that the attitude expressed here seems to be, "I have no respect or sympathy for people who don't follow the law... unless they're jailers/deputies, in which case, I support their not following the law."

Boiled down to its base, this is: "I don't support lawbreakers, but I support lawbreakers."

Actually, I guess it could even be a little bit worse, since there's no guarantee that a person who is in a county jail has actually been convicted of a crime yet, so you could be saying that you have no sympathy for people who may or may not have committed a crime, but you support committing crimes against them.

Jailbirdie
Jailbirdie

Just FYI: 50 % of the  people in the average jail in Texas are pre-trial. . . . .that is, not yet convicted of anything. Like, what if you were pulled over and they mistakenly ID'd you as someone else and threw you in there?But say a woman is convicted of a crime, like writing a hot check or not paying a ticket or having a small amoung ot drugs. You're saying the woman and her baby should be threatened by shackling during that difficult and painful process known as delivery?Dude, you some kind of "man."

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Apperantly Raised doesnt seem to understand the Dallas Co. Sherrifs Office is breaking the law doing this, not to mention opening themselves up for a legal challenge that would costs the tax payers muy dinero to defend their office...

Laurel
Laurel

Texan.... it would be like you squeezing a watermelon out of your privates with your legs taped shut

Nick R.
Nick R.

I think I saw a band at Reno's once called Unshackled Preggo

Singe
Singe

A lot of things that prison "seems like", isn't at all as it seems. Do you even know anybody in prison?

WilliamJohnston
WilliamJohnston

with some of the women that number is reversed 8 lbs.7 ounces

WilliamJohnston
WilliamJohnston

Why. They probably broke the law to get there..  The rate of wrongful convictions is comparatively low  compared to the number of arrest made in every quarter of the year.

TexanBornNRaised
TexanBornNRaised

Can you please tell me where you get that statistic? Not that it will really change my mind, but I'm curious anyway. 50% is a big #.  Out of that supposed 50%, how many of them ARE guilty and end up being convicted?  How many of them have been there before? I know mistakes happen and the wrong people are arrested/convicted when they shouldn't be, but that's a small # in comparison.  Read the other person's comment on the shackling. They're not keeping their legs closed while the woman is trying to push out a baby.  That's damn near impossible without severely harming, if not killing, the mother and baby.

WilliamJohnston
WilliamJohnston

volunteer as a guard at a women's prison for a week end. some people have to experience something to believe it. 

TexanBornNRaised
TexanBornNRaised

I understand very well. There are a lot of things about our jails/prisons that need improvement and even though some of the things they do aren't illegal, per se, they're still unethical. But, the % of the women in this group who are just awaiting trial and may be completely innocent or at least, found "not guilty," is small.  So I still don't have a lot of sympathy for these women who are getting free medical care on the taxpayer's (MY) dime. My biggest concern is for the health of the baby, but I imagine the mothers have already done enough damage to their unborn child already.

WilliamJohnston
WilliamJohnston

some laws need to be tested in court, This seems to be one of them.

WilliamJohnston
WilliamJohnston

you do not seem to know how shackles are made, They are about three foot six inches long (it varies with manufacturer). A person usually takes a stride that is 28 to 36 inches long so there is plenty of room to move. And during examination or a waiting period the one end is removed from the leg and locked to a solid fixture, so their legs have free movement during birth or examination. Please understand that most women  (not felons )would be subject to this shackling.

hugo black
hugo black

Read the article: "In El Paso, jail officials have distributed fact sheets and conducted workshops to train deputies how to recognize labor (She's screaming and I don't see a shiv: Must be baby time!), and how to handle recovery. At other jails, the activists found, officials are failing to even regularly screen inmates for pregnancy, and are waiting too long to get the women seen by obstetricians. While El Paso County jail makes sure its pregnant prisoners get 4,000 calories a day -- more than the other inmates -- other jails take no measures to make sure pregnant women are getting the nutrition they need."

This is the point.  Pregnant prisoners are not getting adequate healthcare. Shackling is just one dramatic aspect of our jails failing to do as they are legally obligated to do.  This harms the innocent fetus, though I am sure there are some stats showing they all grow to be criminals so no compassion due here.

This is major league high dollar lawsuit material.

Theartisticpush
Theartisticpush

If one is in a Dallas county jail, more than likely they haven't been sentenced or even found guilty of acting like an animal yet. They are only being held like one....

Boredbystandard
Boredbystandard

Laurel, William is absolutely correct. Besides, if they didnt act like animals to begin with they wouldnt have to be in prison and chained like one. They get better obgyn care for free as a criminal than I did as a working honest citizen. Sorry, no sympathy for them here!

Laurel
Laurel

William ... You obviously don't have kids or have seen child birth

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