University of Minnesota Physician Works with the Minnesota Department of Corrections to Protect Pregnant Women

A KARE 11 investigation recently highlighted the use of restraints and shackles on pregnant women in custody. This investigation came to light after one woman, Sara, who was placed on a 36 hour hold, was restrained during her trip to the hospital in active labor. When she asked why she was shackled, law enforcement said it was the law, when in actuality the use of restraints on pregnant inmates is illegal in the State of Minnesota. Rebecca Shalfer, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor in the Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health at the University of Minnesota, advocated for the anti-shackling law back in 2014 and has since started the Minnesota Prison Doula Project. This project works closely with the Minnesota Department of Corrections to monitor the tracking for the use of shackles on pregnant inmates throughout the state. Sara’s case has highlighted a flaw in this tracking system, as the Hennepin County Police Department reported 0 cases of shackles used in 2020 when Sara was in their custody at that time. Dr. Shalfer and the DOC have since looked into these flaws in hopes of improving the tracking accuracy and disciplinary measures for discrepancies throughout the state. To read more about Dr. Shlafer’s work, follow this link.