A former inmate is suing the Nevada Department of Correction because she says she was forced to wear shackles while in labor.
Valerie Nabors told KTNV that officials at the Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Center in North Las Vegas violated state law when they put her in shackles while she was being transported to University Medical Center to give birth.
“They go by their own rules, they do their own thing and the reason why, is because they always get away with it,” she explained.
Nabors said that prison guards ignored the advice of an emergency medical technician who cautioned them not to bind her ankles with the shackles.
“She [an ambulance EMT] explained to him, you can’t do this because I still have to check her and he just said ‘oh well’ and proceeded to put the leg shackles on and went back into the facility,” the former inmate recalled.
Nabors is being represented by American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada attorney Staci Pratt.
“When you shackle a woman at her ankles, making it difficult for medical personnel to check her, you’re sending a message that our primary obligation in society is not taking care of women, but to punish them needlessly and I think it’s cruel and sadistic,” Pratt said.
“This is not a time when a woman is thinking about escape. This is not a time when a woman is thinking about injuring anyone. This is a time when a woman is trying to get through the process of child birth with dignity and with respect for her health and the health of her child.”
After giving birth the shackles were again placed on Nabors, who was serving a 12- to 30-month sentence for stealing about $250 in casino chips.
“I understand that I did break the law, I understand that,” she admitted. “But that doesn’t mean I should get treated unfairly. Women have babies everyday and there’s certain procedures for that.”
Nabors’s lawsuit also alleges that prison officials confiscated her prescribed breast pump after being returned to the facility.
“My hope is that Valerie’s strength and courage will be a vehicle for making sure this does not happen to any other women in Nevada or anywhere else in the United States,” Pratt said.
Watch this video from KTNV, broadcast June 28, 2012.