By Associated Press - Saturday, April 23, 2022

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee could become the latest state to strictly limit the shackling of pregnant inmates under legislation headed to Gov. Bill Lee‘s desk.

The Republican-led state General Assembly advanced the legislation earlier this week. The bill was sponsored by Democratic Sen. Raumesh Akbari, who has attempted to passed the proposal for the past four years.

The bill would generally prohibit restraints of a pregnant inmate. More specifically, a pregnant inmate’s ankles, legs or waist couldn’t be shackled during labor or delivery. It also would not allow a pregnant inmate to be shackled behind the back or to be attached to another inmate.



Some exceptions allowing restraints on a pregnant inmate would be when the inmate is moved within or outside of a facility, if the inmate is an immediate flight risk, if the inmate poses a self-threat or threat to the fetus or others, or if the classification level of the inmate requires restraints.

In those cases, the bill says only the least restrictive restraints necessary should be used.

Lee, a Republican, has not publicly weighed in on whether he‘ll sign the bill.

In 2013, Tennessee made national headlines when a federal judge ruled that jail officers showed “deliberate indifference” when they cuffed a woman to her hospital bed through most of her labor and during recovery.

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