Punishing Pregnancy: Race, Incarceration, and the Shackling of Pregnant Prisoners

This is a scholarly article that focuses on incarceration of women and discusses the Eight Amendment regarding pregnant female prisoners. It also highlights racial domination in the prisons and claims it to be "cruel and unusual punishment."


"The shackling of pregnant prisoners during labor and childbirth is endemic within women's penal institutions in the United States. This article investigates the factors that account for the pervasiveness of this practice and suggests doctrinal innovations that may be leveraged to prevent its continuation. At a general level, this article asserts that we cannot understand the persistence of the shackling of female prisoners without understanding how historical constructions of race and gender operate structurally to both motivate and mask its use. More specifically, this article contends that while shackling affects female prisoners of all races today, the persistent practice attaches to Black women in particular through the historical devaluation, regulation, and punishment of their exercise of reproductive capacity in three contexts: slavery, convict leasing, and chain gangs in the south."

Read the full article here.