Senator Whitley Introduces SB 393-FN, relative to the use of restraints on pregnant women
Contact Name: Marina Altschiller
Phone: (603) 271-3375
Senator Whitley Introduces SB 393-FN, relative to the use of restraints on pregnant women in the custody of a state or county correctional facility
CONCORD – Today, Senator Becky Whitley (D-Hopkinton) introduced SB 393-FN, which limits the types of restraints used on pregnant people who are incarcerated in NH jails and prisons and addresses the issue of shackling during transportation. This bill also establishes a reporting requirement when shackling is used.
After the hearing, Senator Becky Whitley (D-Hopkinton) issued the following statement:
“As a mother, I’m honored to bring forward this legislation. Women who are subjected to restraint during childbirth report severe mental distress, depression, anguish, and trauma, according to the American Psychological Association. Women who are incarcerated tend, on average, to have suffered childhood trauma and being shackled can increase post-traumatic symptoms caused by prior experiences of trauma.
I was pleased to present the Committee with an amendment, which has the support of the Department of Corrections. The amendment adds language creating an individualized risk assessment and clarifies the language on availability of female correctional officers, with an understanding that best practice is to have same-sex correctional officers working with pregnant people. We’ve worked very hard to balance the safety and wellbeing of NH mothers and babies while also protecting public safety and the safety of correctional or medical staff.”
Senator Suzanne Prentiss (D-West Lebanon), a co-sponsor of the bill, added: “I am proud to co-sponsor this legislation, which is critically important to the health and wellbeing of mothers and babies in New Hampshire. The sponsors of this legislation worked collaboratively with our state and county correctional systems to arrive at this proposed language, ensuring that all stakeholders’ goals and concerns were adequately addressed. Our goal throughout this process is to balance the needs of mothers, their babies, and the communities that they are a part of. Pregnant people have specific medical needs we should and must acknowledge, and this legislation goes a long way toward accomplishing that.”