A lawsuit is pending against a Milwaukee prison after it was reported that at least 40 women who were incarcerated at the Milwaukee County Jail were forced to give birth there in shackles.
According to NYDailyNews, the federal civil suit accuses the prison of inflicting “physical pain and suffering” on dozens of pregnant inmates who endured labor in chains, exposing them to “unreasonable risks of harm.”
This is at least the third recent lawsuit alleging similar treatment of women inmates at the same jail — and only the latest in a long list of alleged horrors that have allegedly happened there.
The class action suit was filed March 14 on behalf of former inmate Melissa Hall, but the suit says at least 40 women suffered the same fate and will possibly join the lawsuit.
According to the civil complaint, 27-year-old Hall was held at the jail for seven months in 2013 for an unspecified offense. She was pregnant at the time, and forced to wear a “belly-chain,” which kept her wrists tied to her waist and attached her legs with irons.
But officers forced her to keep the chain on when she went into labor, despite pleas from medical staff that she be freed, the complaint says. The confinement inflicted more pain on her as she gave birth, left marks on her body and made it harder for hospital workers to give her an epidural, court papers say.
The complaint mentions the jail’s uniform policy that all detainees must be shackled during medical treatment, but the suit calls this rule “excessive” and “not rationally related to a legitimate, non-punitive purpose.”
The suit names Milwaukee County and its sheriff, David Clarke, as defendants. The filing demands a jury trial and unspecified damages for the women.
According to NYDailyNews, a 2014 lawsuit from another woman who was held at the jail accused deputies of handcuffing and shackling her during 21 hours of labor. Another lawsuit, filed in December 2016, said officials allowed an inmate’s newborn baby to die through negligence.
The jail and the county’s strongman sheriff — a Trump ally who shares the President’s penchant for provocative remarks — have been repeatedly accused of abusing detainees, or even leaving them to die.
The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the jail after four inmates died there in six months — including a bipolar man who suffered severe dehydration. A medical examiner also accused Clarke of verbally harassing him for revealing the mysterious deaths behind bars.