A woman who was in prison when she went into labor is suing the Nevada Department of Corrections over the poor treatment she says she received while giving birth. She was shackled before and after her delivery back in October, and the lawsuit says the prison staff ignored her "wholly obvious, serious medical needs."
While there are certainly occasions in which it is necessary to restrain a prisoner in labor, this does not seem like one of them. Valerie Nabors, 30, was being held at a correctional center in North Las Vegas for the relatively minor crime of stealing $300 in casino chips. Not exactly a serial killer who will use any opening to make an escape. Still, the lawsuit claims that as Nabors was put into the ambulance to go to the hospital, guards ran up and shackled her ankles together, even after the EMTs objected. They were taken off at the hospital so she could change into a gown, and as her guards tried to put them back on again, a nurse told them it was pointless, saying, "it would make medical history if Ms. Nabors attempted to get away." Indeed, it's hard to imagine someone in active labor just sneaking off into the night.
Ten minutes after giving birth to her daughter, Nabors was shackled again and remained that way until she was released from the hospital—even though a doctor diagnosed her with a pulled groin muscle and said she needed physical therapy, which she was unable to do in her shackles. She also claims that the prison took the breast pump the doctor had prescribed to her. Staci Pratt, legal director of the ACLU of Nevada, who filed the suit, said of Ms. Nabors' treatment:
Anybody who has gone through birth or witnessed it can imagine the challenges and difficulties of giving birth while shackled. It is a far cry from the common standards of decency and what we expect as a civilized society.
For their part, the Nevada State Department of Corrections wouldn't comment. But fortunately, Nabors has been released, after being incarcerated for less than a year; so she's free to raise her daughter with zero shackle involvement.
Image via rimira/Shutterstock.