RICHMOND, Va. (CBS/AP) — Legislation to restrict the use of restraints on pregnant inmates in Virginia has died.
A House of Delegates subcommittee tabled Del. Patrick Hope’s bill with just one dissenting vote Thursday. Subcommittee members noted that the state Board of Corrections is developing regulations addressing the issue, and they preferred to let that process play out rather than pass a law.
Hope, a Democrat from Arlington County, said that if the regulations are too weak he will introduce the legislation again next year.
Virginia sheriffs opposed Hope’s bill, citing public safety concerns. They also claimed there is no evidence of widespread mistreatment of mothers-to-be in state correctional facilities.
A diverse coalition of organizations supported the measure, saying the use of restraints on pregnant inmates can endanger the women and their unborn babies. They also said the vast majority of pregnant inmates pose no escape or safety risk. Supporters said some jailers and law enforcement officers routinely restrain pregnant women during transport to medical appointments, even though there has been no case of a pregnant prisoner hurting anyone or trying to escape in the 14 states that already prohibit or restrict shackling pregnant prisoners.
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Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.