Thursday, March 2, 2006

indignities for women only

after last week's excellent piece on the seemingly unreasonable fines and debts that states impose on felons sparked discussion, adam liptak has another thought provoking article in today's new york times on the shackling of pregnant inmates while they are giving birth. this particular practice is a vivid example of why the "add women and stir" approach of many state corrections agencies just doesn't work.

while my former home state of washington is shameful in denying felons the right to vote while they struggle to work off their debts for years after their release, i can be a little more proud of the fact that the washington department of corrections is one of the very few state agencies to enact policy that strictly forbids the shackling of pregnant inmates.

feminist criminologists have been sharing their concern over such practices for years, but it often seemed as though only other feminist criminologists were really listening. liptak suggests that, "In most cases...women are shackled because prison rules are unthinkingly exported to a hospital setting." hopefully liptak's article will bring this issue to a larger audience and encourage thoughtful discussion and debate on the shackling of female inmates during labor and delivery.

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