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Best Practices in the Use of Restraints with Pregnant Women and Girls Under Correctional Custody

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2014
28 pages
The National Task Force on the Use of Restraints With Pregnant Women Under Correctional Custody (convened in 2011) presents principles that guide agencies and jurisdictions in the development of local policy and practices in the use of restraints with pregnant women in correctional facilities.
The intent of these principles is to promote effective internal policies, procedures, and practices that maximize the safety and minimize risk for pregnant women and girls, their fetuses/newborns, and correctional and medical staff. The following types of restraints and restraint practices are expressly prohibited under all circumstances: abdominal restraints, leg and ankle restraints, wrist restraints behind the back, and four-point restraints. Wrist restraints, if used, should be applied so as to ensure that the pregnant woman or girl may be able to protect herself and her fetus in the event of a forward fall. No restraints of any type should be used on a woman or girl during labor and delivery, because this inhibits her ability to be mobile and may interfere with the prompt administration of medical evaluation and treatment during normal and emergency childbirth. Restraints should also be avoided during the post-partum period, but if they are deemed absolutely necessary, they should not interfere with the ability of the mother to safely handle and promptly respond to the newborn's needs. When transporting a pregnant woman or girl, restraints should not be used except when there is a current likely risk of escape or harm to the woman or others. Standard operating procedures are recommended in order to address emergency and non-emergency decisions about the use of restraints. Minimal procedures are proposed in this report. Recommendations are also offered on staff training and quality control and assurance methods. 41 references

Date Published: April 1, 2014