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Best Practices in the Use of Restraints with Pregnant Women Under Correctional Custody

NCJ Number
Kristen King, M.P.S.
Date Published
28 pages

The National Task Force on the Use of Restraints With Pregnant Women Under Correctional Custody presents principles to guide correctional agencies in best practices for the use of restraints with pregnant inmates.


The report indicates that the use of restraints on pregnant women and girls in correctional custody should be limited to absolute necessity, i.e., when there is an imminent risk of escape or harm to the prospective mother, her fetus/newborn, or others. The following types of restraints and restraint practices with pregnant women are prohibited under all circumstances: abdominal restraints, leg and ankle restraints, wrist restraints behind the back, and four-point restraints. In addition, restraints should never be used during labor and delivery, and restraints should be avoided during the post-partum period. Any restraints should not interfere with the woman's ability to safely handle and promptly respond to the needs of her newborn. Standard operating procedures should specify the process and frequency for re-assessing the use of restraints when they have been deemed absolutely necessary. The use of restraints should also be documented; the information that should be provided in such documentation is outlined. After training staff on policies and practices for the use of restraints with pregnant inmates, quality control and assurance methods should be in place to track adherence to policy and procedures, the impact/effectiveness of the restraint policy, and the need for adjustment in policy or practice over time. In developing these principles, recommendations, and the rationale underlying them, the Task Force reviewed a broad body of literature and legal actions related to the use of restraints with pregnant women under correctional custody. Appended list of Task Force members, and references