A recent case in Chicago had many people shaking their heads for many reasons. The lawsuit involved prison inmates who arrived at jail carrying new lives within them. All 80 women were held at Cook County Jail for breaking the law. Unfortunately, the correctional facility also did so when the guards shackled the women while on their way to give birth.
Illinois State Legislation dictated that pregnant women were not to be shackled while in labor or in transport to give birth. The state was the first to pass such a law in 1999. However, many of the women in question reported that they were shackled throughout the delivery, while others were not free of the chains until asked to push, despite the requests to have them removed by medical personnel.
This case ended in a pre-court settlement of over four million dollars. Cook County representatives admitted that they settled in order to save the tax payers time and money. Each of the women will receive compensation averaging about $35,000. That is the equivalent of approximately one year’s college tuition for the children born behind bars. In addition, there was a provision that set up counseling, career assistance, and education for those women involved.
Cook County Jail does not practice such methods any longer. In fact, the Governor of the State passed further regulation that bans the use of shackles on pregnant women at any time, unless they are considered at high risk of flight or fight. This is only for the inmates of Cook County Jail, however, and does not apply elsewhere.
Currently, Florida inmates would have some ground for lawsuit if they are denied abortion, forced to undergo abortion, or are not provided prenatal care. The women are not to have leg shackles or behind-the-back arm shackles at any time during their pregnancy. They should be provided disease testing, mental health counseling, and may be transported to a facility with better abilities to handle the special needs of a pregnant inmate.