Sunday, July 12, 2009

Giving Life, Wearing Shackles and Chains

One day last November, the first shudders of childbirth woke Venita Pinckney before dawn. She was well into her ninth month of pregnancy. She was also incarcerated at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, a state prison.

Before she left for the hospital, Ms. Pinckney said, a corrections officer wrapped a chain twice around her waist and handcuffed her to it. Then he covered the handcuffs with a locked black box to further limit her range of motion. Finally, her ankles were shackled.


You would think that after 30+ years of involvement with the criminal justice system that policies and practices such as shackling pregnant women during child birth would: (a) be part of a bygone era; (b) cease to amaze me. Obviously neither of these items are true.

In far too many instances, our criminal justice policies resemble those of a third-world despot rather then an evolving democracy. Shackling all pregnant women (instead of restraining the truly violent offenders) is just one of many barbaric policies that are an embarrassment to a rational and democratic society.

No comments: