RALEIGH — North Carolina prisons and jails would be prohibited from holding pregnant women with handcuffs and shackles in legislation given final General Assembly approval on Tuesday.
The House voted unanimously — as the Senate did last week — for the bill, which also aims to help inmates and prisoners deliver healthy babies and build bonds with their newborns while incarcerated. It now goes to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk.
The measure, which has support from groups of the political left and right, would largely bar using physical restraints on women serving time or awaiting trial during their second and third trimesters, during labor and for several weeks after delivery. There are narrow exceptions.
The legislation says a prisoner or inmate must have time with her newborn at the hospital, and once back behind bars the woman can receive routine visitations with their newborn if she resides at a low- or minimum-security prison.
Pregnant women behind bars would receive proper nutrition and health and parenting education from correctional workers. The bill also addresses access to menstrual products and regulates body cavity searches and inspections of female inmates.
Shackling pregnant women is already barred by state prison policy going back to 2017. County jails have a patchwork of procedures.