Imagine feeling the first pangs of labor, and then someone grasping your legs and pulling them taut in order to latch handcuffs around your ankles.
This is what happened to pregnant prisoner Valerie Nabors in Nevada.
Ignoring the objections of medical personnel, guards handcuffed her by the ankles as she rode in an ambulance to the hospital. It was not until she was tripping over them while trying to put on her hospital gown that they removed them. Once she was dressed, they attempted to replace the restraints until an attending nurse finally convinced them otherwise, saying “…It would make medical history if Ms. Nabors attempted to get away.” Immediately ten minutes after the birth of her daughter, she was shackled again.
The brutality of her treatment was unjust and unnecessary. Valerie Nabors had no history of violence. She was imprisoned for attempting to steal $300 worth of casino chips. She was not a threat to anyone. The only threat in that situation were the handcuffs that endangered the safety of Valerie’s unborn daughter. In the end, Nabors did incur an injury — a pulled groin muscle. She was recommended physical therapy to fix her injury but was still not allowed to have her handcuffs removed. Later, it was said that her breast pump was confiscated despite it being medically prescribed.
Since then, Valorie Nabors has been released, and she is currently suing the Nevada Department of Corrections for her mistreatment. Unfortunately, though, being shackled during labor is a common occurrence for pregnant prisoners. Currently, only 14 states ban the use of restraints during labor.
Childbirth is challenging enough without one being physically constrained. Please sign the petition for Valerie and all pregnant prisoners, so all women may be treated with human decency and respect during the labor process.
Photo Credit: Riki Maltese