Via Jonathan Turley, I came across this shocking story of pregnant women in police custody who, when it came time to deliver their babies, were shackled to the beds. This is even if they are not accused of anything remotely dangerous. One woman has sued to stop this barbaric practice.
Attorney Chris Clem said his client; Charity Flerl was arrested last June on failure to pay child support. She was housed at CCA for several months before she went into labor. [My italics-MS]
“They took her to Erlanger and they kept her shackled the entire time, they kept her legs, feet, waist shackled. When she had to actually give birth, they unshackled the legs from each other, but then they shackled them to the bed and same with her arms,” says attorney Chris Clem. He goes on to ask, “What’s the purpose of it other than curling in human punishment?”
Attorney Clem says there’s no reason she was even partially shackled during birth.
“There’s no indication that she’s violent to herself or to others, no indication that she’s a flight risk, there are two armed guards in the room, not posted outside the room, but in the room next to her,” says Clem.
This comes on the heels of a case in Nashville last year. That’s when a federal judge ordered that Nashville’s policy of shackling women when giving birth be changed. Attorney Clem wants Hamilton County to follow suit.
“Just change the policy, keep your armed security guards there, if you do have reason to think they’re violent, fine maybe shackle them, but most of these prisoners are not there for violent offenses,” says Clem.
It seems absurd that the presence of armed guards nearby isn’t enough.
This whole idea of shackling is bizarre. Not only are pregnant women being shackled, so are juveniles.
Handcuffs pin the teenage girl’s wrists together. The cuffs connect to a heavy chain around her waist so she can’t raise her arms. Another chain connects her ankles, shortening her step as she shuffles into the courtroom. When she shifts in her chair, the shackles clink.
Malyra Perez is 14, and yes, her mother says, she is troublesome. Malyra runs away and goes to school high, her mother tells the judge. She is in court on a charge of grand theft auto.
But she shouldn’t be in shackles, Myra Perez says. “I didn’t like that, not at all. She’s not a criminal.”
Such sentiments are being heard in courts across the nation, where there are increasingly vigorous debates over rules that require metal shackles to be used on youths who appear at juvenile court hearings.
At issue is whether kids as young as 10 need to be shackled for court security, and whether putting chains on young defendants not only makes them look like criminals but also makes them more likely to think of themselves in that way.
I recall the time when Jimmy Dimora, the county commissioner in our area, was arrested, charged, and eventually convicted of corruption. During his trial, photos would show him being taken to and from the prison with shackles around his wrists and waist and ankles. He was a very large man and with all those chains he looked like a dangerous animal. It felt to me that this was done not for any security reason but to humiliate him in public.
This kind of shaming is wrong, as are all the other ways that people are demeaned by the prison system, such as routine and invasive body cavity searches, stripping, etc. They are more likely to be used against poorer and powerless people. You will not see Wall Street CEOs and other bigwigs being treated this way. Unless there is an extremely good reason (say a dangerous prisoner with a history of violence), shackles and other similar measures that seem to be designed to primarily humiliate people, should not be used.