House considers bill to end shackling of pregnant prisoners

Edith Ajello

House Bill 7182, “takes up where we left off in 2011,” said Representative Edith Ajello (Democrat, District 1, Providence). “In 2011 we made it illegal for pregnant prisoners at the ACI [Adult Correctional Institutions] to be transported to and from doctor’s offices or hospitals… shackled with their hands confined or their ankles confined in the last three months of their pregnancy.

“This legislation,” continued Ajello, “seeks to continue that requirement to sheriffs when they are transporting prisoners back and forth to the courts. The ACI is responsible for transport of prisoners for medical purposes, the sheriffs transport prisoners back and forth from the court to the ACI.”

The bill was heard in the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday evening and held for further study.

Ajello noted that there is some concern that the reporting requirement in the second part of the bill could violate HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996). HIPAA provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information. Ajello seemed confident that the legislation could be reworked.

Four people spoke in favor of the legislation. No one spoke against it.

“Unless we’re in Afghanistan,” said Gail Harvey from Rhode Island National Organization for Women, “There should be no reason for any woman to be subject to shackling while pregnant, especially in her third trimester.”

“It’s a logical extension of the law passed in 2011,” said Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island ACLU.

John Wesley director of policy and advocacy Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence spoke in favor of the legislation.

Retired nurse Rachel Jarosz spoke in favor of the bill out of concern for women’s health. Her microphone was off, so her testimony is difficult to hear.


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About Steve Ahlquist 401 Articles
Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for half a decade. Uprise RI is his new project, and he's doing all he can to make it essential reading. atomicsteve@gmail.com

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