JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Missouri lawmaker has introduced a bill that would ban pregnant inmates from being shackled and chained during labor.
The bill would ban a state correctional center or a city or county jail from using restraints on a woman in the third trimester of her pregnancy during medical care. It would also require correctional centers and jails to create policies for the care of pregnant inmates, including mental health evaluations, substance abuse treatment, dietary supplements and postpartum recovery, the Columbia Missourian reported .
Several people testified Thursday in support of Democratic Sen. Jamilah Nasheed’s bill in front of the Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee. Attendees included representatives from the March of Dimes, Planned Parenthood and Campaign Life Missouri.
Nasheed has been pushing for the restrictions since 2016, when she proposed a bill that would restrict the use of restraints on children younger than 17 during court proceedings and on women after their first trimester of pregnancy. The bill was never taken up by the full Senate.
The senator’s 2016 bill came after the American Civil Liberties Union sued Jackson County on behalf of Megon Riedel, who was late in the third trimester of her pregnancy when she was jailed in fall 2012. Riedel was shackled, chained and transported to another correction center despite doctors telling the officers escorting her that she had a high-risk pregnancy, was in labor and needed immediate medical care, according to a complaint filed by the ACLU in 2015.
The county agreed in 2016 to pay Riedel damages for emotional distress and to implement policies restricting the use of restraints on pregnant inmates.
The current bill was also introduced in the House by Republican Rep. Jean Evans and has been referred to the House Corrections and Public Institutions Committee.
Information from: Columbia Missourian, http://www.columbiamissourian.com