In Maine, no law exists preventing pregnant prisoners from being shackled during labor and delivery, during prenatal appointments or following the birth. Consequently, perinatal prisoners will remain shackled until secured again in prison.

Some may consider a laboring prisoner a flight risk or a danger to others. Those who believe this have never experienced childbirth. Any woman who has given birth can confirm the challenge to focus on anything during labor besides the next contraction. Acts of aggression or escape are far from the minds of birthing women.

The practice of shackling doesn’t consider the risks of pregnancy, including the fall risk for the mother and child, the challenge of birthing a child without changing positions, and the difficulty of caring for an infant when shackled.

There are also emotional challenges. Birthing prisoners often have corrections officers in their rooms during this intimate experience. The opportunity for mothers and babies to bond following birth is impaired by the cold jangling of shackles.

The bill L.D. 1013: An Act to Prevent the Shackling of Pregnant Prisoners makes it illegal for pregnant prisoners to be shackled. An exception exists for substantial flight risks or extraordinary medical or security circumstances.

Regardless of this exception, pregnant women would categorically not be shackled during labor. L.D. 1013 mandates corrections officers’ presence during labor and delivery only if requested by medical personnel.

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L.D. 1013: An Act to Prevent the Shackling of Pregnant Prisoners asks us to have compassion for pregnant women. L.D. 1013 is not suggesting that safety or consequence become secondary.

Women who give birth while incarcerated pay the highest price: being separated from their newborn children. It is cruel to further their consequences by demoting their safety and dignity. Please consider supporting L.D. 1013 by contacting your legislators and advocating for pregnant women.

Kimberly Capone-Sprague

South Portland


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