Although it is estimated that only about 2,000 prisoners in American correctional facilities give birth each year, the issue raises a broader concern about excessively punitive aspects of prison culture. Democratic and Republican politicians alike have pushed for anti-shackling legislation. Doctors have called shackling a threat to the health of both mother and child. Criminologists have deemed it unnecessary, as it appears that no unshackled pregnant inmate has ever escaped during labor.
But in many correctional systems, doctors, guards and prison officials simply are not told about anti-shackling laws, or are not trained to comply.
Audrey Quinn, “In Labor, in Chains”, The New York Times (27 July 2014), SR5.