South Carolina Bans Shackling of Pregnant Inmates

South Carolina has become the 43rd state to ban shackling pregnant inmates. The law prohibits a pregnant woman’s legs, waist, and ankles from being restrained. Wrists are also prohibited from being cuffed to give a pregnant woman a way to protect herself in the event she fell.

The measure, mandated at detention centers all across the state, also included access to menstrual hygiene products, nutritious food, an end to solitary confinement of pregnant prisoners, and weekly visits between inmates who have low or minimum-security classifications and their children.

During a ceremonial signing of the legislation, Governor Henry McMaster said of the bill, “People go to prison as punishment, not for punishment. We in South Carolina stand tall for the respect we have for people.”

Democrats and Republicans in the State Senate came together in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in March to vote against and stop what CEO of the Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network Ann Warner called “inhumane.” She added, “We had a bipartisan, committed group of people that realized this was a barbaric practice.”

The bill’s lead sponsor democratic state Rep. Nancy Mace said of the historic bill, “We’ve done an amazing thing for women who are in our correctional facilities. Life is a series of second chances, and every person should receive redemption.”

President Trump signed the criminal justice reform package in 2018, which included banning federal prisons from shackling pregnant women. 

The Realist Woman’s take:

It’s horrifying to even imagine a person in shackles, let alone a pregnant woman. It’s rare to see inmates being treated like human beings. This law to me says that this state has decided to respect their inmates rather than making an already horrible situation first.

In general, pregnancy can come with its challenges, but to be pregnant while incarcerated has to be taxing mentally and emotionally. So I’m glad South Carolina is done with this practice. It’s a relief to also hear that the inmates will also receive menstrual products, something definitely lacking for incarcerated women, nutritious food, an end to solitary confinement for pregnant women, and weekly visits between inmates with low or minimum security classifications and their kids. 


People need to be rehabilitated, which is much more beneficial for their mental and emotional health, for their families and for the community overall. This law speaks to all of those vital points.


They are the 43rd state to do so