Did you know those female inmates face several hardships and challenges in prison? One of which is being “shackled, handcuffed and restrained” during pregnancy, childbirth, and recovery. That is why some U.S. senators have proposed a bill that seeks for the reformation of how the criminal justice system treats incarcerated women.

According to New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, the practice of Shackling Pregnant Inmates is an “abhorrent behavior,” citing the stress and trauma it could cause to the unborn child. Even though the act is considered legal in 50 percent of the areas in the United States, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stressed that the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Public Health Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have expressed their opposition to the practice and wanted it banned, Bustle reported.

The bill

Apart from Sen. Booker, Senators Dick Durbin, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren also co-sponsored the bill known as the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act. The proposed legislation, which was introduced in July, aims to stop the practice of shackling of pregnant women at federal prisons. It also seeks to ensure a better quality of life for female inmates.

Also included in the bill is the mandate to provide free quality sanitary pads and tampons for all incarcerated women. In addition, the female inmates will be given the opportunity to communicate with their family and loved ones by allowing them to have a free access to emails, Skype messaging and telephone calls.

‘Unacceptable’ risk for women

Since the bill highlighted the concern over the restraining of pregnant female inmates, Booker and the ACLU shared the same sentiments when it comes to the risk of escaping when they are about to give birth or if there are really any.

The ACLU even emphasized that the practice put the women’s health at “unacceptable risks,” particularly for their mental health. Due to pregnancy, labor and postpartum, these women are at a very vulnerable state physically, emotionally and mentally.

The organization added that “moving around” is vital during these times (labor, delivery and postpartum), citing the need to “walk around and move their legs freely.” To deal with labor pains, the ACLU also stressed the need for the women to change for the best suitable positions for childbirth.

Unfortunately, the shackling practice usually involved leg or abdomen restraints so it does more harm than good to the women. In fact, the restraints often prevent them to heal and breastfeed their babies, not to mention the high possibility of bruising. With that said, the female inmates who have endured a lot during their pregnancy and labor become victims of trauma again.

Free tampons and feminine pads

Meanwhile, menstruating in federal prisons will no longer be a stressful and humiliating experience for female inmates.

This is due to the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ announcement earlier this month, stating that prisons are mandated to provide free feminine hygiene products including tampons and sanitary pads to the incarcerated women.

According to Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesperson Justin Long, the amended policy will reportedly ensure that those female inmates will be provided with a wide range of feminine hygiene products such as panty liners, regular and super-sized tampons, and two sizes of maxi pads with wings. The Huffington Post also reported that Booker will be monitoring the proper enforcement of the said revised policy memo.