MILWAUKEE – A former Milwaukee County Jail inmate has filed a federal lawsuit claiming she was forced to wear shackles during childbirth at a hospital.
Sandra Robles’ lawsuit alleges the chain between her feet was so short that she couldn’t reach the stirrups during labor in February 2014, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The lawsuit names the county and Acting Sheriff Richard Schmidt.
Police had allegedly refused requests by medical staff to remove the shackles at least during birth. Robles, now 25, said her hand was chained to the bed and that this prevented her from having full skin contact with her newborn.
The lawsuit says the sheriff’s office policy of shackling pregnant inmates while in the hospital was punitive and excessive, and that it violated Robles’ civil rights. The policy was dropped last year.
“Preventing walking during the first stage of labor may deny the woman the benefits of labor acceleration and discomfort alleviation,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit also says that preventing walking during the postpartum phase can enhance the risk of deep vein thrombosis and its life-threatening embolic complications.
A Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman hasn’t returned a request for comment to the newspaper.
This is not the first such case involving the jail. A woman was awarded nearly $7 million last year after alleging she was sexually assaulted while pregnant in the Milwaukee County Jail and forced to give birth while in shackles.