Editor's note: Did this Sheriff's deputy do the right thing? We've opened a discussion at CorrectionsNation.com. Come tell us what you think.
By Steve Schmadeke Chicago Tribune
CHICAGO — A former Cook County Jail inmate who was allegedly shackled while giving birth at Stroger Hospital last year filed a federal lawsuit Thursday that alleged the practice violates state law.
Marilu Morales was eight months' pregnant when she was incarcerated in April 2008, according to the lawsuit. It could not be immediately determined on what charges Morales was being held.
When she went into labor three days later, she was taken to Stroger. A sheriff's deputy shackled a hand and foot to the hospital bed, the lawsuit alleged.
Morales was in labor for four hours before a physician ordered the deputy to remove the shackles shortly before she gave birth, the lawsuit said. The shackles were allegedly put back on immediately after the baby was born.
"It's been banned by the legislature, and the sheriff seems to read the statute differently," said Kenneth Flaxman, one of two attorneys representing Morales.
A spokesman for the sheriff's office declined to comment because he had not seen the lawsuit.
Morales is seeking more than $200,000 in damages.
Flaxman said this is the fourth lawsuit he has filed against Sheriff Tom Dart's office alleging a pregnant prisoner had been shackled while giving birth. All four have been filed since 2008.
"When you're giving birth, you want to move, and you can't when you're shackled," Flaxman said. "When you want to breast-feed after giving birth, it's hard when you're shackled."