ACLU of Nevada Sues NDOC for Ankle Shackling Woman during Childbirth

LAS VEGAS, NV – The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, representing a former inmate of Florence McClure Women’s Correction Center (FMWCC), has sued the Nevada Department of Corrections for shackling an inmate during labor, and denying her post-partum access to her medically prescribed breast pump.

“Deliberate indifference to an inmate’s serious medical needs amounts to a wanton infliction of pain. Our contemporary standards of decency do not, and cannot, permit correctional officials to engage in this form of cruel and unusual punishment,” ACLU Legal Director Staci Pratt observed. “This is an assault not only on our client, but also to all women. What kind of society permits a woman to be chained in the very act of bringing new life into the world?”

The action, filed in federal district court, states that NDOC and correctional officers violated NRS 209.376, the statute passed by the Nevada State Legislature in 2011 designed to minimize restraints on inmates who are pregnant, in labor, and delivering a baby. The lawsuit indicates that the defendants acted with deliberate indifference to the dangers posed by childbirth, thus violating rights of former inmate Valerie Nabors under both the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article 1, section 6 of the Nevada Constitution. The suit states that NDOC personnel made no representation that Ms. Nabors presented a serious and immediate threat of harm to herself, staff or others, or a substantial flight risk.

The lawsuit states that shackling of Nabors during labor also constitutes torts of assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The lawsuit states that the deprivation of Ms. Nabors’ medically necessary breast pump also violates the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and Article 1, Section 6 of the Nevada Constitution. Because Nabors did not have access to her child or a breast pump for several days, the suit states, Nabors suffered from “immediate and irreparable injury, including physical, psychological and emotional injury and risk of death.” The suit also states that denial of the medically necessary breast pump violated NDOC’s Administrative Regulation 623.01, and also constitutes the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress.

“The ACLU of Nevada is committed to assisting prisoners in our state obtain constitutionally required levels and types of health care, mental health care, dental care, food, and exercise, as well as provisions for their religious beliefs, legal counsel needs, resumption of voting rights when they are out of the system, and much more,” said Dane S. Claussen, Executive Director of the ACLU of Nevada.

The suit seeks: judgments that NDOC violated Nabors’ rights under the U.S. and Nevada state constitutions, damages proven at trial, punitive damages, and reasonable costs/fees.

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