The legislation would also prohibit corrections staff from asking pregnant women to squat and cough during searches. All vaginal exams would have to be done by a licensed medical professional.
While officials from the Georgia Department of Corrections and a representative for the state’s sheriffs departments said neither group has a policy of shackling, pregnant women told lawmakers it was done to them while they were incarcerated.
Pamela Winn said she was pregnant in 2008 and being held in a county jail in Lovejoy during her trial. She said she was routinely shackled as she was transferred to doctor appointments and court dates.
When she was about 20 weeks pregnant, she fell while she was shackled and miscarried.
“Then during my miscarriage was shackled to hospital bed,” Winn said. “Afterward, I was placed in solitary, which they say is for medical observation.”
The legislation now heads back to the House, which will have to approve changes that were made to the bill in the Senate.
State Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, who ushered the legislation through the Senate, said she believes the two chambers will have to work out differences in a compromise committee. An agreement must be reached by the time the General Assembly adjourns next Tuesday for the bill to become law.