Grandmother: Legislation needed to protect pregnant inmates

Grandmother: Legislation needed to protect pregnant inmates
Mariah Reed and her son
Stephanie Green (Source: James Thomas, WAVE 3 News)
Stephanie Green (Source: James Thomas, WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A bill has been filed in the Kentucky legislature that aims to prohibit women from being shackled while giving birth as inmates. For a Louisville woman whose daughter gave birth while incarcerated, this bill hits close to home.

Senate Bill 133 requires adequate nutrition for pregnant inmates, adequate feminine hygiene products, and an appropriate number of undergarments for female inmates. The bill also requires that pregnant inmates be restrained solely with handcuffs in front of the body unless further restraint is required to protect her or others and bans the shackling of female inmates in delivery.

Since July, Stephanie Green has been vocal about her grandson dying while her daughter was incarcerated at the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections. Green said her daughter was not feeling well the day before going into labor. She said bleeding continued and she does not think she received adequate medical care.

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"She would complain about her pains and the things she was going through," Green said. "She was shackled while she had her son."

Green said it is inhumane to handcuff women while they are in labor. Jim Ballinger is representing Mariah Reed, Green's daughter, and has drafted a lawsuit against LMDC.

"We desired to get an opinion from a doctor, to give us an opinion as to whether this premature birth and subsequent death could have been prevented," Ballinger said. "We did that and have such an opinion."

Green was also open about her daughter's incarceration. Reed was in jail after pleading guilty to criminal abuse charges. Ballinger said Reed was under the impression pleading guilty would result in a shorter sentence time.

Steve Durham, LMDC assistant director, said LMDC will not comment on potential litigation. Durham said Louisville Metro Emergency Medical Services transported Reed to the hospital during her delivery.

Durham also said there is a policy in place that states during labor inmates should not be restrained unless there are security concerns. This aligns with SB 133.

Kentucky's Justice Cabinet said they are supporting the bill because it is important to make policy a written law.

Green said she witnessed her daughter's inadequate prenatal care and thinks legislation like Senate Bill 133 would prevent the pain her and her family has experienced with losing a baby.

"I don't want this to happen to anyone else," Green said. "I don't want any other family to go through what we are going through right now."

Ballinger expects the lawsuit to be filed in a few weeks.

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