Rep. Subeck Re-Introduces Legislation to Restrict Shackling of Incarcerated Pregnant Women

Today, Representative Lisa Subeck (D-Madison) and Senator Kelda Roys (D-Madison) have re-introduced legislation to restrict the shackling of incarcerated women during labor and childbirth. Shackling includes the use of belly chains, which tie a person’s wrists to their waist and place iron shackles on their legs. Since 2011, at least 40 women in Wisconsin have been shackled while giving birth. According to a Johns Hopkins University research group, approximately 40 states have already passed laws limiting the shackling of pregnant women in custody.

“No mother should be restrained during childbirth, and no child should be born to a mother in shackles,” said Rep. Subeck. “Needlessly restraining women in labor is a dangerous and inhumane practice that should have been discontinued in Wisconsin long ago.”  

Rep. Subeck and former Senator Lena Taylor, who was recently appointed to the Milwaukee County Circuit Court, first introduced this legislation in 2017 after reports of multiple incarcerated women in the custody of the Milwaukee County Jail had been shackled while in labor. The bill also ensures that needed maternal support services, supplies for pumping breast milk, postpartum health care, and testing for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases are accessible to incarcerated women. 

“Access to critical maternal health care, including postpartum healthcare, should be provided to every new mother no matter where her baby is born,” said Rep. Subeck. “Protecting incarcerated new mothers from the harm and indignity of being shackled during childbirth and providing access to maternal health services and breastfeeding support ensures the best outcomes for the mother and infant during delivery and their futures.” 

Rep. Subeck has represented the 78th Assembly District since 2015 and serves as Chair of the Assembly Democratic Caucus. 


January 31, 2024