The Anti-Shackling Campaign and the Role of RestoreHER

Britney Whistance
Created by Britney Whistance Nov 30, 2020

The ACLU, one of the main promoters of the anti-shackling coalition, has denounced on numerous occasions the risks involved in chaining pregnant women during childbirth, once the woman has given birth and during the postpartum period, which can interfere in your medical care, and in both your health and that of the newborn since freedom of movement is especially critical during childbirth. Besides, this procedure can cause irreversible psychological trauma to the woman, as she does not have freedom of movement or the necessary medical care for her pregnancy's correct course.

There are numerous campaigns against this practice and in favor of facilitating the reproductive rights of these women and the state bills that have been carried out against it. The main argument of these organizations is to defend that this is when the person is completely vulnerable. Given their condition of a hermit, it is up to the state to ensure compliance with their constitutional rights as citizens of the United States.

Although in recent years the anti-shackling campaign of pregnant women has received great support from all over the country, there are still many states that must establish and implement laws contrary to this procedure, as well as those states that despite if they already have a law in this regard, they do not implement it or adequately train prison staff to avoid these bad practices.

However, it is true that the trend in Federal Courts and the Courts of Public Opinion is clear: it cannot continue to be acceptable for women inmates to continue to be handcuffed during childbirth. Many states are moving toward policies that prohibit using these practices and procedures, and many others are beginning to see how important it is to take action. The challenge now is for these laws to be implemented and for prison staff to be trained for special treatment in the face of pregnant women's needs.

After all, when the state imprisons a woman for having committed a crime, enters prison pregnant, or remains pregnant while already in jail, her punishment is locked up. The right to choose to become pregnant or not is an individual right. Suffering during this period is in no way part of your sentence.

RestoreHER: the groundbreaking work for incarcerated women

The advent of violence and cases of injustice faced by mass incarcerated women witnessed a surge in campaigns for their better interests. In this regard, Pamela Winn holds an incredible reputation, having founded the organization, RestoreHER which aims to protect the physical and mental wellbeing of mass incarcerated women, pregnant women in jails, and facing convictions.

RestoreHER has led a benchmark in being a strong advocate in the passing of First Step Act, a historical federal legislation in the United States that banned the shackling of women in federal prisons. The organization also offered consultation and support for the “The Pregnant Women in Custody Act”. The national legislation forbids restrictive confinement of pregnant women facing labor.

The historical legislation brings forward observance of fundamental steps in maintaining the health and safety of pregnant women. Not just women but a set of standards in the wellbeing of fetuses and infants. Furthermore, the organization lodged its advocacy for funding state backed education of law enforcement agencies in the handling and treatment of pregnant women in custody.

RestoreHER is also a core partner of the Southern Black Girls and Women Consortium, where small-scale organizations are working in the interest of young women of color, introducing technical and skill-based education, and providing initial funding to fulfill their dreams.