Join 3,559 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Prisons Often Shackle Pregnant Inmates in Labor
March 1, 2006 11:50 PM   Subscribe

Prisons Often Shackle Pregnant Inmates in Labor. Sometimes human rights abuses are committed right in our backyard [the U.S.]. Shackling females to beds while they give birth is a practice that has been investigated by Amnesty International. A woman in labor writhes in pain on a hospital bed, and as she does, a shackle secures one of her ankles to the bed rail. It sounds like something out of a medieval chamber of horrors. But believe it or not, that's what happens when a female prisoner in California -- and in 20 other states -- gives birth. More here, and on prisoners' rights in general.
posted by gagglezoomer (137 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Sorry. Got the second link wrong. Amnesty International.
posted by gagglezoomer at 11:53 PM on March 1, 2006





image by the great Jane Evelyn Atwood
posted by matteo at 12:02 AM on March 2, 2006


Perhaps if the women in question don't want to give birth while shackled to a bed, they shouldn't have comitted the crime that put them in that situation in the first place? It sort of denigrates the whole idea of human rights abuses if there's going to be a big campaign about treating criminals like criminals.
posted by owillis at 12:11 AM on March 2, 2006


Because surely, owillis, everyone in jail is guilty, women about to give birth are a huge flight risk, and concerns about such things as "giving birth without anesthesia while largely immobilized has left her with lasting back pain and damage to her sciatic nerve" aren't human rights issues at all but are instead all about coddling prisoners, coddling them I say!

Christ. Isn't treatment of those in jail rotten enough as it is without trying to justify further abuses on the grounds that these are Bad People?
posted by kyrademon at 12:24 AM on March 2, 2006


dunk them in hot peanut oil, too, Oliver, come on. don't be too liberal.
posted by matteo at 12:26 AM on March 2, 2006


Jesus owillis. Just kill them. Slowly but surely. And the newborns too. No trials.
posted by keijo at 1:15 AM on March 2, 2006


Un-fucking-speakable. Christ.
posted by maryh at 1:50 AM on March 2, 2006


Yeahhhhhh......That's barbaric. And cruel and unusual punishment. Labor is an intense experience. A woman needs room to cope with the pain in whatever way she can (short of going on the lamb). But in some places it's still normal for the nurses and doctors to strongly recommend, or even insist, that a woman stay in bed throughout labor, hooked up to baby monitors and IV's, in effect shackled. So it's not surprising that prisons are less than progressive on this.
posted by recurve at 1:52 AM on March 2, 2006


Jeez, what is it about a woman in labour that gave people the idea that it was a requirement anyway? There's punishment and then there's being vindictive.
posted by vbfg at 2:35 AM on March 2, 2006


Meanwhile, Washington Corrections Center for Women has implemented a fairly progressive Residential Parenting Program.

"Maintaining closeness between mothers and infants provides a positive incentive for inmates to participate in and benefit from rehabilitation programs offered in prison settings. Strengthening family ties during imprisonment decreases recidivism."
posted by mmdei at 2:48 AM on March 2, 2006


as a faith-based, class-warfare-loving, soft-on-crime Jew said once upon a time,
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
posted by matteo at 3:06 AM on March 2, 2006


I hope they get the cuffs on the little bastards before they cut their umbilical cords. Newborns are slippery.

(If these women are prisoners, why aren't they in locked, guarded hospital wards? Or if they are in such places, why the need for shackles? Unless it's a female Hannibal the Cannibal, what are they afraid of?)
posted by pracowity at 3:26 AM on March 2, 2006


"giving birth without anesthesia while largely immobilized has left her with lasting back pain and damage to her sciatic nerve"

And emotional distress - please don't forget the emotional distress when considering the amount of money for compensatory damages...
posted by bashos_frog at 4:00 AM on March 2, 2006


I should clarify that I think the shackling is wrong, especially if it might cause complications, but I think there are a lot of bad things going on in prison, and your best bet is to try and not get sent there in the first place.

That said, I wouldn't use claims from a lawsuit as evidence of wrong behaviour.
posted by bashos_frog at 4:04 AM on March 2, 2006


cope with the pain in whatever way she can (short of going on the lamb)

mary had a little lam. it's fleas was wide as no.
posted by quonsar at 4:21 AM on March 2, 2006


human rights are far to be respected still....
posted by markM at 4:39 AM on March 2, 2006


It continues to amaze me how little understanding people have of just how bad prisons are, and everyone seems to just want to make them worse. Punishment, punishment, punishment. Tough on crime! They're Bad People and should suffer. If it's not unpleasant, then it won't work as a deterrent!

My father worked in San Quentin, so I'm more familiar than most with just how nasty those places can be. There is no more corrupt institution in California than the prison system. It's not as bad as, say, Abu Ghraib, but it's pretty bad. Abuses by guards are legion and rarely punished. And people just don't care.

And the California prison system is a model of truth and enlightenment compared to, say, Tennessee. From some of the stuff I've heard (I didn't get exposed much to the TN stories, no Internet back then), I think many of those prisoners would hardly notice if you DID send them to Abu Ghraib.

People who have committed crimes, even heinous ones, are still people. A very substantial portion of this country no longer seems to believe that. As soon as someone is pasted with the Other label, it's okay to do ANYTHING to them.

This gives the people who can paste those labels enormous power, and they always want more....
posted by Malor at 4:56 AM on March 2, 2006


Thank you Malor. Well said.
posted by biscotti at 5:21 AM on March 2, 2006


Punishment, punishment, punishment. Tough on crime! {snip}If it's not unpleasant, then it won't work as a deterrent!

Correct!

Shackling women during childbirth does seem a bit much though.
posted by Witty at 5:29 AM on March 2, 2006


Many states justify restraints because the prisoners remain escape risks, though there have apparently been no instances of escape attempts by women in labor.

"You can't convince me that it's ever really happened," Ms. Newell said. "You certainly wouldn't get far."


I truly do not believe that anyone is concerned that after 12 hours in labor, this woman in Arkansas was actually a flight risk. Common sense, folks--let's use it.
posted by leftcoastbob at 5:34 AM on March 2, 2006


The whole point of human rights is that they apply to humans, not to people you like, or people who have done nothing wrong, or people who you wouldn't mind dating your daughter, or people who look, talk and smell like you, but to plain unqualified humans. All of them.
Simple, isn't it?
posted by signal at 5:38 AM on March 2, 2006


"A society should be judged not by how it treats its outstanding citizens, but by how it treats its prisoners."

- Fyodor Dostoevsy
posted by Dipsomaniac at 5:48 AM on March 2, 2006


i'm cool with it. There are usually some very sharp instruments in hospitals...or birthing rooms or wherever the birthing process takes place.



Also prisoner or not they should at least have a machine that goes PING!
posted by Gungho at 6:05 AM on March 2, 2006


People who condone and participate in this activity are likely no better then the people in jail except they haven't been caught breaking a law punishable by a jail sentence.
posted by cmacleod at 6:09 AM on March 2, 2006


It sort of denigrates the whole idea of human rights abuses if there's going to be a big campaign about treating criminals like criminals.
posted by owillis at 12:11 AM PST on March 2


Did you know that criminals are human, too? It's true!

But cool post, anyway: like kryptonite to common sense.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:43 AM on March 2, 2006


Am I the only one who is picturing a woman in labor trying to run away, waddling, with a baby coming out of her crotch?

Am I sick for thinking it's mildly amusing picture??
posted by symbioid at 6:50 AM on March 2, 2006


money for compensatory damages...
That said, I wouldn't use claims from a lawsuit as evidence of wrong behaviour.


yeah, the greedy criminal bitch. what about actual photographs? they must have been doctored, like, you know, Loch Ness or Roswell , or something.

let's see:
They wheeled her into a hospital in Anchorage, Alaska, handcuffs on her wrists and shackles on her ankles. In this condition the woman agonized through labor. "All the other delivery rooms had husbands and fathers," says Jane Evelyn Atwood. "She had two prison guards." Only when doctors ordered an emergency cesarean section were the restraints finally removed. Atwood has photographed in 37 women's prisons in nine countries. (For additional images, see page 78.) But this scene, she says, "was one of the hardest things I've ever had to photograph."



I should clarify that I think the shackling is wrong, especially if it might cause complications,

yes, especially! thanks, Massa.


more on Atwood's work:
Mauer (1999, pp. 92-93) documents some of the measures recently used to implement the “increasing the unpleasantness of prison life” policies that include shooting around prisoners to keep them moving, forced consumption of milk of magnesia, placing naked inmates in “strip cells,” and handcuffing for a long periods of time. Of these methods we selected handcuffing applied to women prisoners delivering a child (Atwood, 1998, pp. 66-67, Siegal, 1998, p.71) as a focus of our study.
posted by matteo at 6:57 AM on March 2, 2006


Simple, isn't it?

Not for bigots, it isn't.
posted by odinsdream at 6:59 AM on March 2, 2006


Because surely, owillis, everyone in jail is guilty

I think we can agree that the vast overwhelming majority of everyone in jail is, indeed, guilty. So unless you want to start modifying policy based on the counterexample rather than the rule, I think this comment is best avoided.
posted by fusinski at 7:05 AM on March 2, 2006


"Though these are pregnant women," said Dina Tyler, a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Corrections, "they are still convicted felons, and sometimes violent in nature. There have been instances when we've had a female inmate try to hurt hospital staff during delivery."

There seems to be at least one reason for the practice, of course, it depends on how much you trust the source.

I was curious as to why, at least the article implied, that women were not provided with a painkiller or something to that design, since they were taken to a hospital to begin with.

I don't think its much of a deal, however, to have the women shackled after the birth. Isn't it common practice to shackle most prisoners when outside of a prison environment?
posted by Atreides at 7:05 AM on March 2, 2006


They are keeping them shackled AND they have gaurds there with them in the delivery room. Yeesh. Ridiculous.
posted by raedyn at 7:10 AM on March 2, 2006


symbioid: no you are not - I was thinking the exact same thing. Flight risk? How? It's cruel and unnecessary. Just another example of how screwed up our prison system really is.
posted by Alpenglow at 7:13 AM on March 2, 2006


Owillis, aren't you the same genius who thought that "Truman Dropped the Bomb" was a cool slogan for the left?


Go do something useful for progressives, like, maybe sharing your awesome ideas with the Hillary 08 campaign...
posted by stenseng at 8:08 AM on March 2, 2006


There is something poetic in this violence.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 8:15 AM on March 2, 2006


I am absolutely astounded that anyone here can be "cool with" a woman's legs being shackled together while she is in labor.

I am truly shocked. Probably more shocked at that than at anything I've ever read on Metafilter.
posted by agregoli at 8:18 AM on March 2, 2006


what jesus, malor, and dostoevsy said.
posted by lord_wolf at 8:24 AM on March 2, 2006


yeah, the greedy criminal bitch.
I'm not judging her one way or another, but back pain and sciatica are notoriously hard to prove/disprove, which is why they are the favored claims of ambulance-chasing shysters.

what about actual photographs? they must have been doctored, like, you know, Loch Ness or Roswell , or
.. Firdos Square, or the spider-hole, or Jessica Lynch.
Good point - I hadn't thought of it.

Seriously, matteo - you know better.

And I reiterate, I'm against the practice of shackling pregnant women (although I'm not sure I'd side with Amnesty International and say that shackling a violent criminal who's in hospital for a minor procedure is morally wrong).
But something smells about the way this issue is being framed, and the use of the lawsuit claims really irked me.

Claims in a lawsuit are just that - unproven claims. Call me when the state settles in her favor.
posted by bashos_frog at 8:27 AM on March 2, 2006


agregoli,
not "together" - to the bedframe.



Not nearly as horrific as the image you conjured up.
posted by bashos_frog at 8:30 AM on March 2, 2006


It continues to amaze me how little understanding people have of just how bad prisons are, and everyone seems to just want to make them worse.


I agree, I think it is a subject that a lot of people are unwilling to spend time learning about because they figure - hey, bad stuff happens to bad guys.

Last year I finally saw some video of theStanford Prison Expiriment. Really chilling stuff.
posted by nuclear_soup at 8:31 AM on March 2, 2006


Hmm, violent women and sharp objects, that's a toughy.
posted by mischief at 8:33 AM on March 2, 2006


how little understanding people have of just how bad prisons are

It's because of this that I think that this issue would be pretty far down my list of things to fix within the prison system. I'd rather start by eliminating the routine beating/torture that goes on, and then maybe move into preventing the execution of prisoners whose guilt/convictions can be reasonably questioned. Denial of medical care would be another issue I'd address before worrying too much about the shackles.

It seems this issue is being brought forward because it is a 'photogenic' issue - 'pregnant women in chains' is going to resonate in the reader's subconscious, no matter what the context.
posted by bashos_frog at 8:47 AM on March 2, 2006


First of all, the prison system in the US has lots of problems with abuse of all kinds. It is broken in so many ways.

Second of all, shackling a woman to the bed while she gives labor does seem unnecessary and poor common sense.

That being said, why does this rise to the level of a human rights abuse? Where is it writ that one of our basic human rights is to give birth unencumbered? Or that we get to avoid restraints in prison when it is particularly inconvenient?

Prisoners are cuffed or otherwise restrained at lots of very inopportune times and it makes a lot of things hard for them. It's prison. Yeah, we get it - she's not going to escape while she's in labor. But prisoners aren't just restrained as a flight risk - there are also the issues of prisoner violence against the guards and other bad things. I'd also expect that male prisoners seizing on a hospital bed are chained there, and for legitimate reasons.

When you put people who have shown exceedingly poor judgment and/or violent tendencies in a box together, you have to expect the worst, so while I would like to see this practice stopped, I don't think it should be put in the same category as slavery, torture, and false imprisonment. Doing so demeans the real human rights abuses.
posted by TunnelArmr at 8:49 AM on March 2, 2006



It seems this issue is being brought forward because it is a 'photogenic' issue - 'pregnant women in chains' is going to resonate in the reader's subconscious, no matter what the context.

Not necessairly, I think it just represents yet another thing to add to the list of other issues you mentioned. If seeing pictures of pregnant women in chains intices people to learn more about the other problems within the prison system, then I'm all for it.
posted by nuclear_soup at 8:50 AM on March 2, 2006


It's because of this that I think that this issue would be pretty far down my list of things to fix within the prison system.

Amen.
posted by TunnelArmr at 8:51 AM on March 2, 2006


Hmm, violent women and sharp objects, that's a toughy.
posted by mischief at 8:33 AM PST on March 2


I don't know what's happened to you in the last year or so, but your critical thinking skills have declined precipitously, as have the quality of your posts. Are these women going to stab the doctor mid-birth and escape somehow? Will the child be pulled along by the umbilical cord? Is a woman who is giving or just gave birth somehow a match for an armed guard?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:02 AM on March 2, 2006


Escape? No, probably not.
Stab someone? Possibly.
Overpower an armed guard? You've never been in a delivery room, have you.
posted by mischief at 9:05 AM on March 2, 2006


I, for one, think ALL women should be shackled during childbirth.
posted by mazola at 9:15 AM on March 2, 2006


She doesn't necessarily want to escape in order to feel the need/urge/desire to "mess up" someone with a sharp instrument. heck even whacking someone across the head with a bed pan would do nicely for someone hellbent on hurting someone.
posted by Gungho at 9:16 AM on March 2, 2006


Malor writes "People who have committed crimes, even heinous ones, are still people. A very substantial portion of this country no longer seems to believe that. As soon as someone is pasted with the Other label, it's okay to do ANYTHING to them.

"This gives the people who can paste those labels enormous power, and they always want more...."


So true.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:19 AM on March 2, 2006


She doesn't necessarily want to escape in order to feel the need/urge/desire to "mess up" someone with a sharp instrument. heck even whacking someone across the head with a bed pan would do nicely for someone hellbent on hurting someone.

What would the motive be here, exactly?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:23 AM on March 2, 2006


Why would someone be in this position? A jury of their peers convicted them of a crime. Once you're in prison, you're guilty until proven otherwise and you should be treated as such. If we're going to go around pretending everyone in prison's sob story about how they were set up is true, why bother even having a penal system? Where's the anger at these women for screwing up their children's lives before they're even born?
posted by owillis at 9:26 AM on March 2, 2006


Where's the anger at these women for screwing up their children's lives before they're even born?

The difference for some of us is that we believe prison should be rehabilitative instead of mindless, pointless punishment. Our anger at criminals does not give us carte blanche to behave like barbarians screaming for blood. It doesn't do the victims any good to release someone as a worse human being than that as which he or she entered.

If we're going to go around pretending everyone in prison's sob story about how they were set up is true

What the fuck are you talking about? No one is saying we should open up the gates and let them all free. We're saying that maybe a little dignity never hurt anyone.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:31 AM on March 2, 2006


ha ha oh man this guy deserved everything he got once you're in prison you're guilty until proven otherwise and you should be treated as such hooray thanks oliver
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:35 AM on March 2, 2006


This is really stupid. Pregnant women need to pee very frequently, even *more* so when they're in labor. (A non-empty bladder tends to impede the downward progress of the baby). So like, do they make them pee in the bed, or do they unshackle them every time they have to wee? Or what?

I can understand them being more cautious with those convicted of violent crimes like murder. Are they also shackling women who are in for things like a pot conviction? Because that's just plain stupid.

Just set a cop outside in the hall, and put her in a room where jumping out the window is not an option.
posted by beth at 9:36 AM on March 2, 2006


Beth, I'm afraid that's not nearly brutal enough. Maybe we could smash her head in every time she cries or something.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:44 AM on March 2, 2006


Perhaps it's an incentive to not get pregnant while you're in prison. I doubt that all of these women were sent to prison while already pregnant. Clearly there's something else that needs to be addressed.

But pregnancy in prison should never be a free pass to anything. It's *prison* - not Baby Camp.
posted by drstein at 9:48 AM on March 2, 2006


"Are they also shackling women who are in for things like a pot conviction?"

They probably don't make a distinction to avoid claims of bias.

"What would the motive be here, exactly?"

Some of you appear ignorant of the mechanics of birth.

First, labor can last hours, even a day or two. Also, we have these scenarios:

"We have to perform a C-section."
"Bullshit! You ain't cuttin' me, muthafucka!" Whack...

"We have to perform an episiotomy."
"Bullshit! You ain't cuttin' me, muthafucka!" Whack...

"The baby died during delivery."
"Bullshit! You killed it, muthafucka!" Whack...

YMMV
posted by mischief at 9:49 AM on March 2, 2006


a bunch of dumb shit
posted by mischief at 9:49 AM PST on March 2


I guess we should probably shackle all women in labor, then.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:57 AM on March 2, 2006


Perhaps it's an incentive to not get pregnant while you're in prison.
posted by drstein at 9:48 AM PST on March 2


jesus christ
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:58 AM on March 2, 2006


It seems this issue is being brought forward because it is a 'photogenic' issue - 'pregnant women in chains' is going to resonate in the reader's subconscious, no matter what the context.

Perhaps true. However, keep in mind that non-photogenic issues will never create the public will to address problems in America's prisons. Thus, the best thing is to push the photogenic issues as a means of building awareness of less-photogenic, but just-as-important issues.

Back in 2003, a well-written blog post on Robert Kennedy's effort to confront people with the reality of poverty made this point rather forcefully:
What Kennedy taught the doctors is that knowing the truth is barely a beginning. The real work comes in getting people to see it.
posted by deanc at 10:00 AM on March 2, 2006


Hmm, violent women and sharp objects, that's a toughy - mischief

One of the women in the linked stories who was shackled during the labour and delivery was in jail for ... wait for it... shoplifting. The most notorious of violent crimes.
posted by raedyn at 10:03 AM on March 2, 2006


"I guess we should probably shackle all women in labor, then."

Restraints are available in all delivery rooms.

raedyn: Standard procedure is standard procedure. Would you prefer that your tax dollars be spent defending against bias lawsuits?
posted by mischief at 10:10 AM on March 2, 2006


Restraints are available in all delivery rooms.

Yeah. For when they're necessary.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:20 AM on March 2, 2006


Well, there you go then.
posted by mischief at 10:24 AM on March 2, 2006


Honest question: In what situation during a birth are restraints necessary?
posted by raedyn at 10:37 AM on March 2, 2006


drstein: Perhaps it's an incentive to not get pregnant while you're in prison. I doubt that all of these women were sent to prison while already pregnant.

First of all, how and where and when they became pregnant does not change how they should be treated when they give birth.

But also, from the article we are discussing (but maybe not reading?):
About 5 percent of female prisoners arrive pregnant, according to a 1999 report by the Justice Department. The Sentencing Project, a research and advocacy group, estimates that 40,000 women are admitted to the nation's prisons each year, suggesting that 2,000 babies are born to American prisoners annually.
And of the women who do become pregnant in prison, don't you think most of these pregnancies are the result of rape or coercion by guards? I don't think "incentive to not get pregnant while you're in prison" comes into play at all here.
posted by pracowity at 10:42 AM on March 2, 2006


In what situation during a birth are restraints necessary?

Aside from when a jury of the woman's peers determines beyond a shadow of a doubt that she should be forcibly restrained and detained for a set amount of time due to her intentional unlawful actions?

I imagine (though IANAD) that sometimes women in labor have seizures and similar emergency situations. I can understand why they'd want to keep a prisoner restrained, but what I don't get is why they use those nasty shackles instead of the nice padded restraints that the hospital already has. Once they get to the hospital, why can't they restrain them with something that won't hurt?
posted by JekPorkins at 10:44 AM on March 2, 2006


Freedom ain't free.
posted by hatchetjack at 10:45 AM on March 2, 2006


In what situation during a birth are restraints necessary?

She might throw the baby at an officer and leap out the window, obviously. A woman who's just given birth is a slippery and cunning beast.

Or she could strangle someone with the umbilical cord. If she hurriedly devoured the placenta, she'd temporarily gain super-human strength, like Popeye with a can of spinnitch.

"..the Aristocrats!"
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:47 AM on March 2, 2006


Honest question: In what situation during a birth are restraints necessary?

When the woman is in such a condition that medical staff present in the room and familiar with her history believe she really threatens to hurt someone (including herself or her baby), and when restraints will prevent that harm without doing worse harm.

Derangement linked with dangerous acts. Threats of violence that seem genuine and possible. Things like that. And still you'd be better off trying talking, lighter restraints, and sedatives first.
posted by pracowity at 10:48 AM on March 2, 2006


Prison is there to keep them away from the rest of us who aren't going around committing crimes. There are a lot of crimes that shouldn't have jail time, but as the law currently is, they are crimes and you pay the consequence for it.
posted by owillis at 10:54 AM on March 2, 2006


“Once they get to the hospital, why can't they restrain them with something that won't hurt?’

What’re you some kind of hippie communist?

Guilty or not, the U.S. prison system needs some serious overhauling in a wide array of areas.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:56 AM on March 2, 2006


“There are a lot of crimes that shouldn't have jail time, but as the law currently is, they are crimes and you pay the consequence for it.” - posted by owillis

So anything we do to them is ok? Any consequence is justified? Legal doesn’t mean moral.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:59 AM on March 2, 2006


I'd be interested to know if there's anyone here who regularly works in either the criminal justice system (including people who work on the defense side) or in a maternity ward and can chime in as to whether they, given their experience, think this is as inhumane and unjustified as it appears to most of us here.

I, for one, think I'm probably too insulated from both hospital life and the realities of the criminal justice system to make an informed judgment as to what's humane and what's not in this type of situation. My initial reaction is that people shouldn't be treated that way, but that may just be because I really don't have much experience dealing with prisoners or patients.
posted by JekPorkins at 11:01 AM on March 2, 2006


No, "anything" is not moral but as others have pointed out in the great pantheon of things that should be changed in prisons, shackling a prisoner to a hospital bed is one of the less earthshattering ones that could be quantified as "abuse".
posted by owillis at 11:04 AM on March 2, 2006


“While enduring intense labour pains, I was handcuffed while being taken to the hospital, even though I was in a secured vehicle with a metal grating between the driver's and passenger's compartments and with no interior door handles on the passenger doors. With the handcuffs on, I could not even hold my stomach to get some comfort from the pain...At the hospital I was shackled to a metal bed post by my right ankle throughout seven hours of labour, although a correctional officer was in the room with me at all times. The shackles were not removed until 30 minutes prior to my delivery...Imagine being shackled to a metal bedpost, excruciating pains going through my body, and not being able to adjust myself to even try to feel any type of comfort, trying to move and with each turn having hard, cold metal restraining my movements. Not only was this painful, it was traumatizing, and very stressful for myself and also for my child.... With all the other security measures that were in place, and with my minimum security status, did they really have to put me and my infant through that torture?"”

But really - who cares what some crazy bitch says? She’s a criminal: Warnice Robinson, imprisoned in Illinois, (according to those stooges at Amnesty International). Clearly a dangerous criminal. She was convicted of shoplifting. (They’re all trained to lie about their pain for sympathy and to run down society right? You know who I mean - the ‘Warnice’ types - they.)
posted by Smedleyman at 11:05 AM on March 2, 2006


“I'd be interested to know if there's anyone here who regularly works in either the criminal justice system”

One of my students is a C.O. on a SORT team. Just made brown belt. He’s about 6’6” plays semi-pro football. Benches about 500 lbs.
Yeah - he agonizes about how dangerous 5’5” pregnant women are if they’re not leg cuffed.

But seriously, the major problem from prisoners is weapons, from what he has told me. If they don’t have a shiv or something hidden somewhere, they’re typically not dangerous to guards.

I’m not on the “horrible abuse” bandwagon here. But (as you said) why put someone in unnecessary pain?

Seems like there could be some other form of restraint or guard or action, something. Where are the CO’s during this? Out for coffee? Are they in the building? If they can’t restrain a woman who is giving or has just given birth they have no business doing that job.

Why didn’t the woman in the NYT piece get anything more than Tylenol all day? Do you think the doctors didn’t give it to her then joined in a lawsuit against the prison?
posted by Smedleyman at 11:18 AM on March 2, 2006


Isn't treatment of those in jail rotten enough as it is without trying to justify further abuses on the grounds that these are Bad People?

Only if they're poor people.

If they're wealthy, we treat them well.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:20 AM on March 2, 2006


Also, I think this thread probably contains huge hints as to why the USA is so fucked-up.

Some of you people are downright evil.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:28 AM on March 2, 2006


If they're wealthy, we treat them well.

Really? I thought it had more to do with the crime they are convicted of than with how much money is in their bank account when they're incarcerated. Do you have some support for the idea that a middle class man imprisoned for raping and killing children is treated better than a poor man imprisoned for a three strike violation based on possession with intent to sell?

I think the way the U.S. treats convicts has more to do with the crime than with how much money they have. Now, rich people are certainly less likely to do time than poor people, but that's a different discussion.

(Also, why are people here so quick to believe that the allegations in a complaint in a lawsuit are true?)
posted by JekPorkins at 11:33 AM on March 2, 2006


Shoplifting is a crime. It's stealing. Most of us have never done it. If someone shoplifts, there are consequences for the action. The best thing for this woman and her child would have been if she wasn't an idiot and hadn't shoplifted in the first place. She is the one at fault here.
posted by owillis at 11:35 AM on March 2, 2006


Punishment seems to be a method used to insert fear in to society. This is of course at the expense of the person who did the wrong which society wants to prevent. It does a horrible job at actually fixing the problems which lead to crime, but instead continues to ignore reality.

Just because someone did something unacceptable, it doesn't mean they deserve to suffer. Removing them from society so that they do not create more chaos, is in the least, sufficient. Justice isn't punishment, it is the ability learn and correct collectively agreed upon acceptable behavior. Creating more suffering, to me, is unacceptable behavior.

When someone is already in a chaotic state, how does creating more chaos in their life actually fix anything? How does ignoring why they chose or were influenced to be chaotic fix anything?
posted by Trakker at 11:45 AM on March 2, 2006


Just because someone did something unacceptable, it doesn't mean they deserve to suffer.

Actually, that's exactly what it means (unless of course, there's no such thing as "deserving" something). If it's possible to deserve something, then "deserving" is necessarily merit-based. People who don't do bad things don't deserve to suffer. If anyone deserves to suffer, it's people who do bad things. Maybe nobody deserves to suffer, though.
posted by JekPorkins at 11:49 AM on March 2, 2006


“Shoplifting is a crime. It's stealing. Most of us have never done it. If someone shoplifts, there are consequences for the action.” - posted by owillis

Ok, Inspector Javert, I’m unclear as to how criticising the practice of not giving someone pain relief or asserting that given other practices, personnel and equipment in place to prevent escape are unnecessary if they cause someone pain. Particularly for a crime as non-violent as shoplifing this seems redundant.

“The best thing for this woman and her child would have been if she wasn't an idiot and hadn't shoplifted in the first place. She is the one at fault here.” - posted by owillis

Well owillis, I’m an extremely resourceful and exceptionally violent man. If I hunt you down and cause you extreme pain until you change your tune, you would be an idiot for disagreeing with someone like me in the first place. And therefore, you would be the one at fault.

Or would it be wrong for me to do that? If so, why?

You see no one is arguing law or whether someone convicted of a crime should serve a sentance in prison. This is a matter of ethics. What is the proper method of treating a person convicted of a crime?

Your vague assertions that “consequences” must be suffered and your seemingly clairvoyant knowlege of the circumstances of the crime in this particular case resulting from a lack of intellect aside - you have not made any ethical case.

Is it ethical to allow someone convicted of a non-violent crime to be treated as a violent criminal and - in addition - be caused what is manifestly obvious pain for no reason, in that another form of restraint or attention from a correctional officer or what-have-you - can be used?


“Actually, that's exactly what it means”
-
Indeed JekPorkins . That’s the question however - how much suffering is proportional to the crime. Is being imprisoned enough?
In addition - who is authorized to mete out that suffering?
In the U.S. we give that power to a judge and jury, we define their limits - you may imprison someone for certain lengths of time.
In no law do I see that prisoners can be caused to suffer by guards or any other entity in a manner unneccesary to obeying those limits.
I don’t see where prisoners must be sexually assaulted by other inmates. I don’t see where prisoners must be starved or tortured in any way. I see only that their sentence is to be confined for a certain length of time and if they carry out that sentence that they are then free from that suffering.

Why don’t we let guards beat people when they are released from prison if we’re so sure that what the guards are doing is perfectly fine?
Clearly the justice system hasn’t caused those imprisoned people to suffer enough - perhaps it was wrong about the length of time they are to suffer as well.
Why then not let guards track down former prisoners and inflict pain on them in whatever manner they see fit if we’re all unclear as to who deserves to suffer for how long or what they deserve - etc?
posted by Smedleyman at 12:00 PM on March 2, 2006


I was with you until that last comment, owillis.

Frankly, I have little sympathy for people in prison - it's a place where criminals go, and they should be treated as such. Human criminals, yes, so no torture, but criminals nonetheless, so no pillows. The problem, as so many of you point out, is that our courts are bogus and do a pretty weak job of convicting those who should be convicted and acquitting the others. Fix this and we have no innocents in jail (I believe personally there aren't that many innocents there now, proportionally, but it's quite a scene when one is found), and really I couldn't care less what happens to them.

The current prison system is problematic because it is social - guards and prisoners all mingling and doing things together, it creates friction and it creates incidents. I'd go for shorter terms and more restrictive prison systems.

As for this labor-shackling, I can't say it strikes me very deeply. I'm not as callous as those who say they shouldn't have gotten pregnant then committed a crime, but really they're just being put in the minimal restraints a criminal would be put in. There's a minimum level of security to be observed no matter what as a matter of form in a prison and this is part of it. The shackles are removed when the baby is imminent; they are only on during the extended peroid of labor, which may last for many hours and during which it's probably wise policy not to leave a prisoner unrestrained, pregnant or not. There are bigger problems than this one in our prison and court systems, let's address them first.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:05 PM on March 2, 2006


Incidentally, I have no intention of tracking down or harming anyone - ever - for anything they may express, here or anyone else.
/I would like to make equally clear that the reason I would never do such a thing is not because I fear any consequences from the state.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:06 PM on March 2, 2006


JekPorkins

Its not that this person isn't "deserving" something, it is what is deserved. Either it be suffering or some other experience. Deserving seems to be an emotionally based based result of cause and effect. Deserving falls into the idea that a specific cause requires a pre-judged effect. I just don't believe the automatic link to suffering is logical or necessary. Unless your goals are pure revenge, there doesn't seem to be any real benefit.

People who don't do bad things don't deserve to suffer. If anyone deserves to suffer, it's people who do bad things.

Again this is a flawed argument. What are the goals involved? For example, someone may deserve to experience suffering in order to obtain a better understanding of themselves or some other subjective perspective.

What you are saying is that bad people need to suffer for some specific reason. What is that reason? And how is it justified?
posted by Trakker at 12:09 PM on March 2, 2006


Yes, let's all get lost in metaphysical moral argument.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:12 PM on March 2, 2006


Shoplifting is a crime. It's stealing. Most of us have never done it. If someone shoplifts, there are consequences for the action. The best thing for this woman and her child would have been if she wasn't an idiot and hadn't shoplifted in the first place. She is the one at fault here.
posted by owillis at 11:35 AM PST on March 2


Thank you, Zell. Your work here is done.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:46 PM on March 2, 2006


Yeah, me and the idiot Zell Miller, sittin' in a tree.

The problem I see from you guys is that you're automatically equating shackling a prisoner to other actual prisoner abuse, as in ignoring prison rape, straight out torture, etc. The expectation of a prisoner - violent or not - is that by committing a crime, you're going to be under lock and key.

I don't personally believe things like taking marijuana or engaging in prostitution should be crimes, and I think the penalties for those crimes should be minimal at best. But that doesn't change the fact that they are crimes and someone who commits one of them gets the punishment associated with it.
posted by owillis at 1:03 PM on March 2, 2006


agregoli,
not "together" - to the bedframe.


Read the fucking article.
posted by agregoli at 1:12 PM on March 2, 2006


The expectation of a prisoner - violent or not - is that by committing a crime, you're going to be under lock and key.

Prisoners don't need to be literally under lock and key twenty-four hours a day for the length of their sentence. There are times when it's appropriate and times when it's not - non-violent offenders undergoing medical care when a CO is close by falls in the latter.

Oh, and that Zell crack?

It sort of denigrates the whole idea of human rights abuses if there's going to be a big campaign about treating criminals like criminals.

You said that. So as far as I'm concerned, you're fucking blood brothers.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:13 PM on March 2, 2006


Shoplifting gets you prison time? What did she steal, a freaking house? I know a couple of people who shoplifted and they were given probation. Is this a Canada/USA difference thing?

Shackling and denying painkillers during an overwhelming physical event such as labour is criminal in it's own right and anyone who supports such is out of their fucking gourd.
posted by zarah at 1:16 PM on March 2, 2006


I appreciate for the more unsympathetic posters that if you haven't seen a lot of births then it's hard to understand just how cruel being shackled to a bed is. First of all, the flat on the back position is excrutiatingly painful, not to mention really, really bad for the baby since it restricts blood flow to the uterus. I don't know how long these shackles are, but the anecdote from that mastermind criminal the shoplifter seemed to indicate that she couldn't even lie on her side, which would be the preferred position for both mom and baby. This is also ignoring the fact that many women find comfort in labour from sitting, squatting, or walking around.

The issue of these women somehow gaining easy access to sharp instruments is retarded. Do you really think doctors and nurses just leave scalpels and syringes lying around the patient's bed within arm's reach? Seriously, step outside your "criminals are dangerous! if we blink they'll eat our babies!" mentality for a minute and actually think like a rational person. Sharp instrument safety is a huge, huge issue in hospitals - handling, storage, disposal, these things are not taken lightly. Maybe in a movie some dastardly shoplifter can reach over and grab a stray scalpel off a tray, but that is simply not the reality.

Finally, I fail to understand why these women don't seem to be offered any kind of substaintial pain control. Not only for their sake, but for the simple fact that a woman who's just had a full on epidural anesthetic ain't gonna be standing, let alone running the fuck away.
posted by thelaze at 1:25 PM on March 2, 2006


Yes, let's all get lost in metaphysical moral argument.

Yes, instead lets get lost in emotional vindication for not being responsible.

The result that I see happening is that people are choosing to not do bad things because there are consequences of suffering. If there was no suffering, would you still do bad things? This is like a religious person saying, "if I didn't believe in God, what is stopping me from murdering someone?". There are much better reasons for not doing bad things than fear. Yet we don't seem to be teaching or exploring them.
posted by Trakker at 1:38 PM on March 2, 2006


Shoplifting is a crime. It's stealing. Most of us have never done it. - owillis

I doubt that, actually. I'm sure most people have committed minor crimes at some time or another. Most people have, at some point, driven drunk, or driven away from a gas station without paying, or picked up an extra grocery bag that wasn't ours, or smoked marijuana, or punched someone we were mad at, or any other number of illegal acts. There is less difference between you and criminals than you'd like to think.
posted by raedyn at 1:50 PM on March 2, 2006


There is less difference between you and criminals than you'd like to think.

Everyone is a criminal. There are no true "law abiding citizens." Nevertheless, speak for yourself about what crimes you've committed without getting caught. I'm a little weirded out by the "most people have . . . driven away from a gas station without paying, etc . . ." thing, since the only one of those that I've ever done is punched someone I was mad at, and the last time I did that I think I was probably about 14.

I do wonder what & how much this woman shoplifted to get thrown in prison for it. I guess if she shoplifted jewlery or something else of great value, that would make it a felony. And while we're on the subject, Free Winona!!
posted by JekPorkins at 1:58 PM on March 2, 2006


"I don't personally believe things like taking marijuana or engaging in prostitution should be crimes,"

"taking marijuana?"

"taking marijuana..."

"Excuse me fellows, but my chum Chet and I need to borrow the jalopy. I need to go up to my swingin' pad and 'take some marijuana,' while I listen to rock and roll records on my hi-fi."

Actually, prostitution, meh, but man, you try to nab my stash, and hell yeah you ought to do some time!

Uncool, man. Totally uncool.
posted by stenseng at 2:01 PM on March 2, 2006


I didn't mean to imply that most people have done all those things. I certainly haven't done them all. But I expect that most people have done at least one of them at some point.
posted by raedyn at 2:05 PM on March 2, 2006


And I considered listing other even more common offences like jaywalking and speeding, but I haven't heard of anyone who has been put in jail for those things so I left them off. But if you've done any of that, you're not a completely law abiding citizen.
posted by raedyn at 2:06 PM on March 2, 2006


Evil, I tell you. Inhumane, uncompassionate, evil people.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:45 PM on March 2, 2006


“The expectation of a prisoner - violent or not - is that by committing a crime, you're going to be under lock and key.”

What form does that “lock and key” take? When did anyone deny in general that convicted criminals should be locked up?
The question is one of what form that should take. What kind of treatment is humane.

“But that doesn't change the fact that they are crimes and someone who commits one of them gets the punishment associated with it.”

Yeah...you’re really not seeing it are you? Ethics 101. Several states have stopped doing this. Some states allow it. Some states don’t have it as an issue.

Which case is correct?

And who should make that decision?

For me there is no question. I see the other side of the issue, and I contend that - while not strictly speaking - is abuse in the sense that it is as egregious as say busting someone’s teeth for sneezing or it is illegal - since some states do allow it - this is still not how prisoners should be treated.

I would like any prisoner of the state to be reformed. One leads by example, not by impressing one’s will by naked force.
I want anyone who goes into jail to come out less pissed off and dangerous than when they go in.

Because I guarantee you if my wife forgot she put something in her shopping bag because her hands were full and she went to prison and was subject to this kind of treatment I would have someone’s balls ornamenting my desk right now.
And should that occur, society should count itself lucky that I’m sharp enough to focus my rage.
As I understand it, there are a lot of angry ex-cons who would kill any cop if they had a chance, not just the one who thumped their head.
Not an environment I want produced.

Phew...I should really calm down and take some marijuana....
(but you know, those reefer addicts are crazy)
posted by Smedleyman at 2:53 PM on March 2, 2006


Smedleyman, is your wife putting stuff in her shopping bag that's worth enough money to make the theft a felony? And isn't intent an element of the crime? I agree with you that states should be more humane than this. But pretending that people go to prison for forgetting that they put thousands of dollars worth of stuff in their shopping bag because their hands were full is just such a load.
posted by JekPorkins at 3:07 PM on March 2, 2006


Family legend holds that we are descended from Irish pirate Granuaile, who supposedly repelled a Turkish attack on her ship right after giving birth. Just sayin'.

Having said that, I think it counterproductive to treat most prisoners harshly. How can we expect them to learn civilized behavior and then return to society if they're not treated humanely?
posted by Soliloquy at 3:28 PM on March 2, 2006


Well, all, you have one solution at your disposal. Write your congresspeople that you support raising taxes to add staffing at $15+ per man/hour (24/7 at that) as opposed to using a $20 set of restraints.

I'm sure the women will not object in the least to more strange men standing around the delivery room watching their every move.
posted by mischief at 4:00 PM on March 2, 2006


Write your congresspeople that you support raising taxes to add staffing at $15+ per man/hour (24/7 at that) as opposed to using a $20 set of restraints.

Do you think that they just drop these women off at the hospital?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:05 PM on March 2, 2006


Given the outrage here, I should have presumed you already wrote your congresspeople.

... or is this just more of the typical MeFi bloviation? heheh
posted by mischief at 4:08 PM on March 2, 2006


Of course not, OC, like the article says, they throw an iron on a leg and then stand outside the room.
posted by mischief at 4:09 PM on March 2, 2006


"Though these are pregnant women," said Dina Tyler, a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Corrections, "they are still convicted felons, and sometimes violent in nature. There have been instances when we've had a female inmate try to hurt hospital staff during delivery." Having given birth twice without any pain relievers, I can attest to instances of WANTING to hurt SOMEONE!
posted by annieb at 4:10 PM on March 2, 2006


... or is this just more of the typical MeFi bloviation? heheh
posted by mischief at 4:08 PM PST on March 2


Looks like you finally read it. So you realize that "Write your congresspeople that you support raising taxes to add staffing at $15+ per man/hour (24/7 at that) as opposed to using a $20 set of restraints" makes no sense, right?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:17 PM on March 2, 2006


I'm fully in support of shackling women during conception.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:30 PM on March 2, 2006


As the article said, the guards shackle the women and then stand outside the delivery room.

If they are to leave them unshackled, then the guards will be need to remain inside the room. Since the number of guards they currently have on staff is probably inadequate to reasonably protect the hospital staff (in the event of a full bed count, say), they will have to hire more. Since babies have no respect for clocks, the prison will have to maintain a full staff of guards in the delivery room 24/7/365.

You can cry about prison conditions all you want, but improving things will inevitably cost money. You know full well that in this instance, someone looked at a budget and said, "Hey, we can cut the number of guards in the hospital wing if we put restraints on select patients."

Money, me lad, money. If you don't like things as they are, pony up the cash.
posted by mischief at 4:32 PM on March 2, 2006


Oh, I just thought of something: the Correctional Officers Union would also have a say in making such changes. Try to convince them that taking the cuffs off a woman in labor is a good thing.
posted by mischief at 4:36 PM on March 2, 2006


Since babies have no respect for clocks, the prison will have to maintain a full staff of guards in the delivery room 24/7/365.

That's a really long time to be in labor.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:42 PM on March 2, 2006


Hey, that's my line!
posted by mischief at 4:49 PM on March 2, 2006


You can't be too careful with these women in labour. Turn your back for a moment and VOOSH! They're off! The good thing is, though, that they leave a nice easy trail to follow.

owillis, you're a vicious little assburger.
posted by Decani at 4:53 PM on March 2, 2006


"they leave a nice easy trail to follow"

That's a woman with no legs, not a woman in labor. ;-P
posted by mischief at 4:58 PM on March 2, 2006


gagglezoomer: It is unfortunate that you listed California as one of the states that allow this practice, when in fact, California is one of two states that have laws that forbid the shackling of women during delivery.

It's right there in the last sentence of the fourth paragraph of the Times article you link to.

In the sixth paragraph readers learn that the California law went into effect in January 2006.

The link you provide to the Real Cost of Prisons Weblog features an article written in August 2005 when the practice was still permissible.

The honorable thing to do would be to email Matt and ask him to correct the link on your FPP.
posted by mlis at 5:36 PM on March 2, 2006


Posters reading their own links??? Now there's a concept to ponder.
posted by mischief at 5:45 PM on March 2, 2006


I swear, some of you wouldn't rest until prisoners had it better than Bill Gates.
posted by owillis at 6:05 PM on March 2, 2006


The practice of shackling women during childbirth is appalling. Where is the Frank Johnson of today?
posted by mlis at 6:10 PM on March 2, 2006


agregoli: Read the fucking article.

I read it, and in the part I think you are referring to, the prisoner refers to "the leg iron" (singular) a couple of times, as well as saying one wrist and leg were chained to the bed, as well as saying feet chained together. It's a very confused passage to get a picture from, so I lean towards interpreting it by looking at the photos, and reading the other accounts, which seem more consistent.
I could be wrong, or 'Maria' could be exaggerating - but if it helps, I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and say her situation sounds a lot more fucked up than the others.
posted by bashos_frog at 6:27 PM on March 2, 2006


So there is this guard,and an anaesthetized prisoner, in the recovery room. prisoner opens his eyes sees the guard,
closes his eyes says, I want to go back! back where I just was! so the guard tells me,after witnessing the actual surgery
struck me both funny and sad. Irony is, the guard getting overtime pay.
posted by hortense at 6:41 PM on March 2, 2006


convicted felon + no locks + no guard in the room = shackle ankle

that's what I'm working with. it really doesn't look that provocative from here.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 7:16 PM on March 2, 2006


I swear, some of you wouldn't rest until prisoners had it better than Bill Gates.
posted by owillis at 6:05 PM PST on March 2


What the fuck are you talking about? Not being shackled during childbirth is some sort of treat? Oh, man, wouldn't want to get soft on crime. Make sure that as she holds her child for the first time, you put your gun to her temple so she doesn't get any ideas.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:19 PM on March 2, 2006


“Shoplifting is a crime. It's stealing. Most of us have never done it. If someone shoplifts, there are consequences for the action.”

No one is saying that certain crimes shouldn't result in imprisonment. The consequence of crime in our society? Prison. (For many, certain executives, politicans, and celebrities excepted.)

Abuse is another story. It's quite sad that we've some people saying they couldn't care less what happens to people who are in prison. The act of abuse itself is never justified and, indeed, is alarming regardless of the abusee.

So if you commit a crime you should expect to be abused in addition to being punished by imprisonment? A wonder we don't have more criminals.

I don't personally believe things like taking marijuana or engaging in prostitution should be crimes, and I think the penalties for those crimes should be minimal at best. But that doesn't change the fact that they are crimes and someone who commits one of them gets the punishment associated with it.

Absolutely. Again, the punishment is being imprisoned, not abused. The debate isn't about being imprisoned, it's about abuse.

I swear, some of you wouldn't rest until prisoners had it better than Bill Gates.
posted by owillis at 9:05 PM EST on March 2 [!]


Ahh, herein lies the trouble. You lack basic reading comprehension skills or you simply enjoy mischaracterizing arguments. I saw it on Colbert last night. Huffington said that she didn't think Hillary could be president. Colbert said Huffington said women can't be president. I enjoyed Colbert's more.
posted by juiceCake at 8:10 PM on March 2, 2006


Americans defending shackling women in labor to their beds? Is the rest of the world getting this? Now do you see how the USA works? Now do you understand all this "democracy" and "freedom" and "wealth"? This thread would go much further to educate non USians about the US than a million movies, hamburgers and iPods would. Yes, there are a few worse places. Are we racing them to the bottom?
posted by telstar at 10:50 PM on March 2, 2006


How many people here have given birth? It looks to me like the vast majority of commenters in this thread are male and would have no clue what they're talking about.

You deny a woman the chance to labour in comfort -- to be able to move around to suit herself during and between contractions, and to find the position that best suits her and her baby for the actual birth -- and you are forcing excessive pain on that woman. Surely that constitutes torture.

Also consider the stress on a newborn baby that can be caused by a difficult labour. Is it fair (criminal mother notwithstanding) to make a baby's beginnings more difficult than they need?

The best, most common-sense comment I have seen in this thread is thelaze's. Maybe stop thinking about a labouring woman as a criminal for just a second and consider what she is going through and what would be an appropriate way to care for her. Thelaze also brought up my first thought on reading the post: if they must be forced to remain still, why not an epidural or spinal block?

This isn't about the prison system. It's about simple human decency and the apparent lack thereof.
posted by tracicle at 11:53 PM on March 2, 2006


It sort of denigrates the whole idea of human rights abuses if there's going to be a big campaign about treating criminals like criminals.

Wow. What an incredibly barbarian point of view. Number one: you don't just accept inhumane treatment of anyone who's been convicted of anything. That's a ridiculous, cruel, and unusual substitution of the class system for the justice system.

Second, it's the responsibility of any humane society to carry out the sentences meted by the courts system without adding bonus penalties like health care deficiencies, rape or murder in the shower, torture by guards, etc. Like it or not, if you want to imprison someone on principle you have to be a grownup and not give into petty disdain and hate and leave them to whatever fate finds them behind bars. We don't toss criminals to the wolves and trust that they deserve whatever they get - WHATEVER that might be. If you do, you're fucking Saddam Hussein.

Come on now. We take people's freedom away. We don't sentence them to giving birth on the floor in shackles. We don't sentence people to dying of minor infections. We don't sentence people to decades of rape and domination. Yet that's what they get. It's not right. And it has nothing to do with wanting to reward them for their crimes. It has to do with being unwilling to stoop so low as to use imperfections in the penal system to mete out punishments beyond what is permitted by the legal system.

Get with this whole 20th century, shining-light-of-freedom thing (such as it is, it's miles ahead of you, apparently).
posted by scarabic at 12:09 AM on March 3, 2006


This thread would go much further to educate non USians about the US

Oh shut the fuck up, ye generalizing twat.
posted by scarabic at 12:12 AM on March 3, 2006


And the California prison system is a model of truth and enlightenment compared to, say, Tennessee.

Considering that the CA prison healthcare system was just taken over by the feds due to gross negligence and unacceptably bad performance, I dearly, truly hope you're wrong (but doubt you are).

Having the feds take over our care of prisoners is one of the most shameful things I can recall. I love California and take pride in our character. It's always been hard to deal with our performance in education. But this on top is just too much.

I have zero love for anyone who winds up behind bars for commiting a crime, but I can't tolerate them being treated like animals. If I throw a party and someone winds up passed out on my carpet, I'm just the kind of person who puts a blanket over them and a glass of water nearby. Call me a hippie if you want. But I can't just COMPLETELY turn my back to someone for committing ANY level of offense against me.

I'd like to see the pious fucks spouting eye-for-an-eye in this thread get nabbed for DUI or posession or tax evasion or some other crime of which YOU KNOW they've been guilty at one time or another. Given their attitude, I hope they'd stand on their heads and spread their ass cheeks wide from day 1 of ther sentence, williingly accepting just punishment for their crimes.

Criminals are ciminals, right?
posted by scarabic at 12:26 AM on March 3, 2006


I believe the incarceration, loss of freedoms, and rather basic food, cot, etc., are all part of the prison sentence, as intended by our laws. If a person is a convicted criminally, I fully believe they should be removed from our free society as a penalty, and I fully believe that we need only provide them adequate necessities for life.

I do not believe that our laws are intended to sentence people to anal rape, beatings, illness, etcetera.

I do believe that a few people in this thread are coming very damn close to saying that prisons should have rape, sickness, deprivation, etc., as punishments.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:06 AM on March 3, 2006


five fresh fish writes "I do believe that a few people in this thread are coming very damn close to saying that prisons should have rape, sickness, deprivation, etc., as punishments."

There does indeed seem to be a certain sadistic streak behind many of the comments in this thread. Having lived almost 6 years in the US I can't say that I'm shocked, though. Dehumanizing prisoners and other people in the margins of society is very much a strong trait of American society.
posted by clevershark at 5:18 AM on March 3, 2006


You all did read the part stating the restraints will be removed at the doctor's request, right?
posted by mischief at 5:38 AM on March 3, 2006



“But pretending that people go to prison for forgetting that they put thousands of dollars worth of stuff in their shopping bag because their hands were full is just such a load.” - posted by JekPorkins

Thanks for redefining to me what I meant by what I said. It nicely illustrates - perhaps better than I had intended with my off the cuff metaphor - that we really don’t know the circumstances of the crime committed here. Nor the circumstances of the person. Perhaps she’s a bad person, career criminal. Perhaps she’s stealing because she made some earlier mistakes and has no skills and can’t get a job other than McDonalds which locks her into a poverty cycle. I really don’t know.
And neither does anyone else.


“... or is this just more of the typical MeFi bloviation? heheh”
posted by mischief

Why the fuck are YOU posting on MeFi then? heheh.

“Money, me lad, money. If you don't like things as they are, pony up the cash.” -
posted by mischief

Because there is no other organization opportunity available to us. Indeed, horses are the only way to travel. The internal combustion engine will never be perfected. Powered flight is also impossible.

Care to expound further on how the methodology is impossible? Or will you be facing the fact that there are states that DON’T do this, any time soon?

“Try to convince them that taking the cuffs off a woman in labor is a good thing.” - posted by mischief

Can I just say - I absolutely adore uninformed opinions which include pissing on those folks who make informed comments.

“Posters reading their own links??? Now there's a concept to ponder.” -posted by mischief

*nearly drowns in irony*

“You all did read the part stating the restraints will be removed at the doctor's request, right?” - posted by mischief

You did read the part about how that didn’t happen and the doctors are suing the prison, right?
posted by Smedleyman at 10:45 AM on March 3, 2006


Wow. No wonder abortion is being outlawed...most of you have no idea what "labor" actually entails, do you?

Un.fucking.real.

As an example of our fabulous justice system; some chick gets busted for having pot at a concert, gets raped by a guard, gets pregnant, has to give birth shackled down without painkillers, and has the baby removed by the state for "it's own good". But, it's a damn good thing that woman was strapped down and in pain, because goddamn...she's a criminal, she deserves to suffer.

Bring on The Handmaiden's Tale already, at least then we'll not be under the illusions that we're free and equal members of society.
posted by dejah420 at 2:45 PM on March 3, 2006


How many people here have given birth?
*raises hand*

It looks to me like the vast majority of commenters in this thread are male and would have no clue what they're talking about.

Yeah, looks that way from here, too.
posted by raedyn at 4:41 PM on March 5, 2006


« Older THE SAINTLY SINNER....  |  Hooded police commandos [weari... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments