Shackling of Pregnant Women to End in New York
Governor Signs Anti-Shackling Bill
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 22, 2015 – New York, NY – Today, Governor Cuomo signed into law the 2015 Anti-Shackling Bill (A.6430-A/S.983-A), legislation that will protect against the unsafe and inhumane treatment of pregnant women who are incarcerated in state and local correctional facilities.
“This is a critical women’s rights issue,” said Sonia Ossorio, President of the National Organization for Women in New York. “There are few things scarier happening to women in New York jails and prisons: being pregnant and getting shackled. Today that practice ends with the stroke of the Governor’s pen.”
This legislation will provide uniform standards for correctional facilities across the state and enforcement provisions necessary to ensure that those standards are upheld. A ban on shackling during childbirth was passed in 2009, but this updated bill will expand the shackling ban to include throughout pregnancy and postpartum, and ensure that all women are treated in line with medical guidelines and principles of human dignity.
Medical evidence shows that shackling poses serious health and safety risks to pregnant women and their fetuses. The Correctional Association of New York found in a 2015 report that 23 of 27 women surveyed who gave birth in state corrections custody were shackled in violation of the 2009 anti-shackling law.
“With this law, our state takes a critical step forward in protecting the health, safety and human rights of women. As the most progressive of its kind to date, this law can contribute to reform nation-wide and help spur recognition of the need to end mass incarceration of women and all people,” said Tamar Kraft-Stolar, Co-Director of the Women & Justice Project.
“Banning the shackling of pregnant incarcerated women is just the latest in a significant list of game changing reforms Governor Cuomo has prioritized and accomplished in 2015,” said Ossorio. “From the historic Women’s Equality Act to extending discrimination protections to transgender individuals to making our prisons more humane and safe. It lifts my heart and makes me proud to be a New Yorker.”
NOW is grateful to Governor Cuomo, sponsors Senator Velmanette Montgomery and Assemblymember N. Nick Perry, the many groups who advocated on behalf of this reform, and most especially, the courageous advocacy of women who experienced first-hand the horror of shackling during pregnancy.
The National Organization for Women is the nation’s largest organization working to advance women’s rights and improve women’s lives. NOW New York aims to protect and promote reproductive justice, secure workplace equality, combat racism and homophobia, and end discrimination and violence against all women.