Ending shackling in Massachusetts -- victory!

Until this year, the state of Massachusetts had no policy to protect incarcerated mothers from being put in harmful restraints (including handcuffs, leg irons, and waist chains) during the later stages of pregnancy and during and after childbirth. As a member organization of the Massachusetts Anti-shackling Coalition, the Prison Policy Initiative helped Massachusetts to become the 21st state to pass legislation to end the inhumane practice of shackling mothers who are pregnant or giving birth while incarcerated.

On May 15 2014, Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill to immediately outlaw the practice.


  • Prison Policy Initiative submitted written testimony in support of the bill to end the practice of shacking incarcerated women who are in the later stages of their pregnancies, giving birth, or in the postpartum period, December 12, 2013

In the Prison Policy Initiative blog

Selected news coverage

Members of the Massachusetts Anti-Shackling Coalition Include:

ACLU of Massachusetts, American Friends Service Committee of Western MA, Black and Pink, Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, Boston Feminists for Liberation, Casa Myrna, Civil Liberties and Public Policy, Coalition for Effective Public Safety, Dismas House—Worcester, Families for Justice as Healing, Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project, Health Care for All, Health Law Advocates, Hollaback! Boston, Jane Doe Inc—the MA Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, Jewish Alliance on Law and Social Action, JRI Health, The Law Offices of Howard Friedman, The Massachusetts Chapter of the National Organization for Women, Mount Holyoke Students Against Mass Incarceration, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, National Lawyers Guild, Massachusetts Chapter, Out Now—Springfield, Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, Pretrial Working Group, Prison Birth Project, Prisoners’ Assistance Project at NUSL, Prisoners’ Legal Services, Prison Policy Initiative, Real Cost of Prisons Project, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Stern, Shapiro, Weissberg and Garin, LLP, And Still We Rise, Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry, The Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts, Worcester Homeless Action Committee.

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