Sheriff's deputies are shackling some female inmates to the bed during childbirth at Magee-Womens Hospital, officials there said, and the practice has prompted an outcry from advocacy groups.However, Magee's director for labor and delivery, Trish Nelson, has stated that about half of the inmates from Allegheny County Jail who gave birth last year were "restrained by one wrist to the sideboard of the bed by a deputy."
Sheriff Pete DeFazio said he had no knowledge of any shackling during labor. "That's crazy. It's hard for me to believe. To tell you the truth, I don't believe it."
Think about that for one second.
Now ask yourself how much of a flight risk is a woman who is in the process of giving birth?
The article says that if the restraint starts to impede the delivery that a doctor or nurse will ask the deputy to remove it. Nelson said that they "usually comply."
Jesus! You mean to tell me that there are times when they don't comply?
The state of Pennsylvania does have polices which restrict restraints during child birth but that policy only governs state prisoners.
Witold J. Walczak, legal director of the Pittsburgh ACLU, points out that many women in county jail haven't even been convicted of a crime and are awaiting trial.
The article stated that DeFazio is looking into the allegations and today's P-G has those results. First what the offical manual says and then what DeFazio now says:
"Any prisoner admitted to a hospital or medical facility as a patient shall be, at minimum, shackled to the bed with leg irons AT ALL TIMES. If the prisoner is unable to be shackled with leg irons due to a medical condition, the deputy will handcuff the prisoner to the bed. If the prisoner is unable to be shackled with leg iron or handcuffs due to broken arms and legs, then the prisoner shall be secured with a waist belt or waist chain locked firmly to the hospital bed. There are NO EXCEPTIONS to this rule."According to today's article, County Chief Executive Dan Onorato had not heard of the policy and is glad that the sheriff is looking into the issue.
Sheriff DeFazio said yesterday he had halted the shackling practice, but he would not punish anyone who had shackled women during childbirth. He said the male deputies, not the female ones, were more likely to have restrained women during labor. [Well, duh!]
So I ask, what's it going to take for someone to change that manual? A manual that all sheriff's must sign a waiver saying that they have received.
What's it going to take for someone to make Allegheny County's policy OFFICIALLY match state policy on this issue?