Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Giving Life, Wearing Shackles and Chains


One day last November, the first shudders of childbirth woke Venita Pinckney before dawn. She was well into her ninth month of pregnancy. She was also incarcerated at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, a state prison.

Before she left for the hospital, Ms. Pinckney said, a corrections officer wrapped a chain twice around her waist and handcuffed her to it. Then he covered the handcuffs with a locked black box to further limit her range of motion. Finally, her ankles were shackled.

“You can’t walk like a normal human being,” said Ms. Pinckney, 37. “When you’re pregnant, you have a hard time keeping your balance to begin with.”

At least once a week, somewhere in one of New York’s prisons or jails, a pregnant women goes into labor. Nearly all of them, including Ms. Pinckney, are behind bars for drug offenses. Even so, they are often as severely restrained in the final hours of pregnancy as the most nimble and dangerous of criminals. While their bodies heave toward childbirth, they become walking, clanking jail cells.

“I told the officer he’s not supposed to shackle me,” Ms. Pinckney said last week. “He said he was just following procedure.”

From just about every wing of state government, there is agreement that such restraints are needless and risky. The state department of corrections formally limited their use nine years ago.


Anonymous said...

the reason corrections officers chain and shackle people is the regulation gives some dumb ass a job??? No common sense is ever considered?? djw

Marcia McGuire said...

Shackle the mother and the infant is shackled also. The welfare of the mother is imperative to the welfare of a healthy newborn. A mother in labor should be given the respect and comfort of a smooth, joyful delivery. The barbaric shackling and disrespect to the *felon* affects the infant(s). Any good physician would be in agreement. On a psychological level, the atmosphere of the delivery and the well-being of the mother affects the child throughout life, creating a human being in childhood AND adulthood that has been *taught* disrespect and negativity before actual birth into a world full of self-righteous hypocrites and barbaric, destructive rules.

Oh, holier-than-thou detectives, judges and prosecutors: YOU are guilty of child abuse many times over with your lust for power/wins and support for this inhumane treatment! It is YOU who agrees with the laws that convict the unborn child(ren) and tear families apart that could otherwise have evolved into joyous union. (Bless these moms and their children.)

We NEED courageous physicians to come forth and tell the truth instead of constantly thinking of their own reputations already tarnished by cowardice!

Medical evidence withheld!