Judge Throws Out Case Over Shackling Pregnant Inmate

By  Stina Sieg
January 23, 2014

A judge has thrown out a lawsuit by a former jail inmate in Maricopa County who was restrained before and after she gave birth. The U.S. district court judge ruled that there is no law in place saying that shackling Miriam Mendiola-Martinez was unconstitutional, but Mediola-Martinez's lawyer disagrees. Joy Bertand said that various courts have found that restraining women during the birthing process violates their constitutional rights. She stressed that Mendiola-Martinez’s treatment was dangerous after she was arrested for using false documents to obtain work in 2011.

"Whether you’re going to call them a tether or a chain or a shackle, it comes down to the same thing, you’re significantly restricting a woman at her most vulnerable," Bertand said. "And putting her at significant medical risk – and that of her baby."

The lawsuit holds Maricopa County, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and a county health care district responsible, and Bertrand said this is not the end of the line for the case. She plans to take it next to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.