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NC House OKs Bill To Prohibit Shackling Of Pregnant Inmates

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Matthew Henry
A North Carolina bill would severely limit the handcuffing and shackling of pregnant women who are incarcerated and seek to ensure newborns and their mothers are cared for well.

North Carolina House lawmakers unanimously approved on Monday a bill that would prohibit physical restraints being used on pregnant incarcerated women before, during and after they give birth.

The proposal also requires women to be provided sufficient food and dietary supplements during their pregnancy.

Rep. Kristin Baker, R-Cabarrus, said she authored the bill in response to a concerned physician who delivered a baby a couple years ago from a woman who was shackled at a hospital and unable to hold the infant as a result.

“Very sadly, that baby had passed away,” Baker said. "This physician is certainly not placing blame, but she is saying, ‘Look, there is a way we can prevent this. This doesn’t have to happen again.’”

Rep. Jamie Boles, a Moore County Republican, supported the bill and noted shackling pregnant inmates while they're in labor is not supposed to happen.

“I take great pride in our correctional officers that we have in the state of North Carolina, and I just want to make the record clear this is not the state of North Carolina’s policy," Boles said.

House Bill 608 now heads to the Senate, where, if approved, will make its way to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

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