Anyone who’s ever given birth knows how important comfort can be. In those painful hours of labor and contractions, the last thing you want is to complicate your experience. Unfortunately, pregnant inmates have little choice in the matter to how they give birth. And now, a lawsuit reveals that many incarcerated mothers were forced to give birth in shackles.
The NY Daily News reports that at least 40 inmates from the Milwaukee County Jail were made to labor and deliver in restraints, and it’s not the first time such accusations have been made. Former inmate Melissa Hall filed the class action lawsuit earlier this month.
The 27-year-old spent seven months as an inmate for an unknown offense. When she went into labor, Hall was restrained with a belly chain, which a device that keeps wrists tied to the waist. Hall’s legs were also attached with irons. Medical staff requested Hall be freed of her shackles, but jail employees would not comply. Hall’s medical providers struggled to give her an epidural during labor, and the former inmate was left with numerous marks on her body caused by her restraints.
The lawsuit claims dozens of other mothers experienced the same inhumane treatment, and there have been at least two other recent lawsuits against the jail regarding ill treatment of female inmates.
Among the defendants named in the lawsuit is Milwaukee County’s sheriff, David Clark, who has been repeatedly accused of the abuse and even death of numerous inmates. The jail is also currently being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice for the suspicious deaths of four inmates in the past six months.