Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement

SIGN UP FOR MS. DIGEST, JOBS, NEWS AND ALERTS

FEMINIST WIRE NEWSBRIEFS

ABOUT
SEE CURRENT ISSUE
SHOP MS. STORE
MS. IN THE CLASSROOM
FEMINIST DAILY WIRE
FEMINIST RESOURCES
PRESS
JOBS AT MS.
READ BACK ISSUES
CONTACT
RSS (XML)
 
feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

May-04-11

Judge Rules in Favor of Woman Shackled During Labor

A U.S. District Court judge ruled last week in favor of a woman who was shackled while giving birth at a Tennessee jail in 2008. Juana Villegas had been arrested and charged with careless driving and driving without insurance in July of 2008 when her immigration status showed that she had a prior deportation order to her native Mexico. She was taken into custody and went into labor two days later.

Villegas sued the Davidson County Sheriff's Office after being shackled by the arms and legs throughout giving birth, including the final stages of labor and directly after. She was not allowed to have a breast pump or cream for lactating mothers in her cell, and was separated from her newborn son for two days. The judge ruled in her favor, saying that shackling Villega during the final stages of her labor violated her civil rights, and noting that she was "neither a risk of flight nor a danger to anyone."

In their effort to combat the lawsuit, Davidson County sheriff's office justified her shackling by citing testimony on the "danger of illegal immigrants fleeing and engaging in illegal activities." Davidson County participates in a controversial program 278(g), which deputizes local police to investigate the immigration status of people they've arrested. Villegas' attorney, Elliot Ozmet, said that typically when someone is unable to produce a driver's license, they are given a citation, but in this particular case the officer decided to take her into custody.

"I was in jail when my water broke," Villegas recalled. "They took me in an ambulance and cuffed my hands and feet. When we got to the hospital, they moved me to the bed and cuffed this hand and foot to the bed." The medical staff requested that she not be restrained at all, warning that she may get blood clots from the leg irons, but the officers refused.

The National Women's Law Center released a report in 2010 on the status of mothers in prison, and reported that 36 states fail to comprehensively limit, or limit at all, the use of restraints on pregnant women during transportation, delivery and postpartum recuperation. Only ten states have laws that address shackling. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detention currently has no prohibitions on shackling pregnant detainees. Amnesty International and the Rebecca Project for Human Rights are leading nationwide efforts to end the practice of shackling pregnant women during labor.

Although Villegas has won her case, she has been denied a request to stay in the U.S. by the 6th Court of Appeals, so she once again faces the threat of deportation.



Media Resources: Colorlines 5/2/11; The Tennessean 4/28/11; Nashville News 4/28/11; RH Reality Check 4/28/11; New York Times 3/2/2006


© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.

 

 

Send to a Friend
Their
Your
Comments
(optional)


More Feminist News

4/24/2014 Mississippi Governor Signs 20-Week Abortion Ban Into Law - Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed a bill into law yesterday that bans abortion 20 weeks after a woman's last menstrual period, effectively at only 18 weeks. "With the women and families of their state facing extreme poverty, unacceptable rates of maternal mortality, and skyrocketing teen pregnancy, Mississippi's elected officials have more than enough real work to do to bolster women's well-being in their state," said Nancy Northrup, CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a statement. . . .
 
4/23/2014 Supreme Court Upholds Michigan Affirmative Action Ban - The Supreme Court yesterday upheld a Michigan state constitutional ban on affirmative action for women and minorities in public education, employment, and contracting. The decision in Schuette v. . . .
 
4/22/2014 US Ranks 16th in 2014 Social Progress Index - The Social Progress Imperative recently released its 2014 Social Progress Index, ranking the United States in 16th place among 132 countries. Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter, a Republican who led the report team, told CNN's Fareed Zakaria that he was surprised by the ranking. . . .