In December of 2014, at the end of the D.C. Council's 20th legislative session, the Council passed Councilmember Grosso's bill to eliminate the use of shackles or restraints on pregnant inmates and detainees during and leading up to labor. Although the final version of the law did not go as far as Grosso had hoped it would in prohibiting the shackling or restraining of pregnant in almost any situation, nonetheless this is an important human rights victory. The legislation, the Limitations on the Use of restraints Amendment Act of 2014, is expected to become official law on July 25, 2015, at the conclusion of the mandated Congressional review period.
The final law states that no woman or girl in the custody of the Department of Corrections (DOC) or the Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services (DYRS) shall be restrained during the third trimester of pregnancy, during labor, or during post-partum recovery, except in extraordinary circumstances. Any such uses of restraints in extraordinary circumstances are to be documented and justified. For women and girls in the first or second trimester of pregnancy, the law stipulates that when restraints are necessary, the least restrictive restraint possible shall be used, except in extraordinary circumstances--which also must be documented. It is the responsibility of DOC and DYRS to inform the women and girls in their custody of these rules.
In advance of the legislation coming into effect as law, Grosso sent letters to the Directors of the DOC and DYRS. The responses from DOC Director Thomas Faust and DYRS Director Clinton Lacey are below. Although the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) was not included in the final version of the legislation, the Councilmember will seek to work with MPD to ensure that pregnant women and girls in the Department's custody are treated with the utmost respect for their health needs and human rights.