Board of Corrections votes on policy to shackle pregnant inmates during labor

Posted at 7:14 PM, Oct 17, 2012
and last updated 2012-10-18 09:40:10-04

RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) -- The Virginia Board of Corrections agreed in principle Wednesday to restricting shackles, ankle, and waist restraints of incarcerated pregnant women during labor.

Correctional officers can only use the shackles if a "serious" security risk is present.

"We put in place restrictions that will look out and pay extra attention to pregnant inmates," Peter Decker III, Chair of the Virginia Board of Corrections, told CBS 6.

The technical language regarding the use of shackles will be hammered out in the coming weeks with the official policy change coming after the Board's November meeting.

"Any vulnerable population should be treated with respect and our laws here in Virginia must appropriately care for them," Holly Coy of the Virginia Interfaith Center said.

Coy was part of a coalition that advocated in favor of the outright ban.

"There was a variety of stories that emerged from women having restraints during childbirth that concerned us," Coy said.

But not everyone supported the outright ban.

Many sheriffs and medical personnel voiced concern over security risks posed by not properly restraining female inmates.

"My staff could be ambushed, the women could be taken from that situation and the staff could be killed," Sheriff Beth Arthur of Arlington, VA told those gathered.

Richmond Sheriff C.T. Woody said the move solidifies protocols at his jail.

"I think it's a great idea that there coming together now," Woody said.