As a member of the National Task Force on the Use of Restraints with Pregnant Women under Correctional Custody, the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) is proud to announce the release of principles and operational practices to guide the use of restraints with pregnant women and girls under correctional custody. The work of the Task Force and the development of the publication were sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice. Maureen Buell, Correctional Program Specialist for NIC, participated as a task force member.
Historically, correctional policies regarding the use of restraints were designed to ensure the safety and security of correctional staff and inmates in correctional institutions with predominantly male populations; however, the demographics of the justice involved population are shifting to include women and girls in growing numbers. Currently, approximately 1.3 million women are under the authority of the criminal justice system, with approximately 209,000 women held in jails and prisons. Almost three-quarters of the women in state and federal prisons are mothers (a 122 percent increase since 1991). Between three and five percent of female prisoners report being pregnant at the time of admission or intake to a correctional facility.
The release of new principles and operational practices guiding the use of restraints with pregnant women and girls provides a starting point for individual organizations to use in developing effective internal policies, procedures, and practices that maximize safety and minimize risk for pregnant women and girls, their fetuses/newborns, and correctional and medical staff. The recommendations emphasize the collaborative development (between correctional leaders and medical staff) of written policies and procedures on the use of restraints, based on the recognition that the unique healthcare needs of women and girls are not addressed by most standard custody management policies. The principles emphasize the need to balance the safety, health, and well-being of pregnant women and girls and their fetuses/newborns with partners such as care givers, corrections staff, and medical staff. Among the five elements outlined in the document is that the use of restraints on pregnant women and girls be limited to absolute necessity.
The publication can be downloaded at NIC Women Offenders Resources (under Physical Health) and at the National Resource Center on Justice Involved Women.
Questions regarding the publication and the work of the Task Force can be directed to Madeline Carter, Principal, Center for Effective Public Policy, firstname.lastname@example.org.
This announcement is available at NIC's Gender-Responsive News for Women and Girls. Feel free to forward to friends and colleagues. Subscribe to the newsletter at http://nicic.gov/go/subscribe.
This blog is funded by a contract from the National Institute of Corrections, U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view or opinions stated in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.