Today ECBAWM and The Legal Aid Society announced a $750,000 settlement of a federal lawsuit brought on behalf of a 22-year-old New York City woman, “Jane Doe,” who was arrested in 2018 when she was more than 40 weeks pregnant. Ms. Doe was handcuffed and shackled for hours during labor and after she gave birth to her newborn son at Kings County Hospital.
In addition to the monetary portion of the settlement, Ms. Doe requested, and the New York City Police Department agreed, that the NYPD will conduct “roll call” training to all NYPD officers regarding its policies on the use of restraints on pregnant persons.
“The NYPD’s policies for shackling pregnant people are decades behind mainstream law enforcement standards and an embarrassment to the City. At the state level, New York Correction Law § 611 outlaws the use of restraints ‘of any kind’ on women admitted to the hospital for delivery or recovering after giving birth – but the NYPD still refuses to ban these practices,” said ECBAWM partner Katie Rosenfeld, who, along with ECBAWM attorney Andrew Jondahl and The Legal Aid Society, represents Ms. Doe. “Jane Doe is a fierce champion for justice, and we urge the City Council to take up her efforts, change the local laws on shackling pregnant people, and force the NYPD to finally ban handcuffing women who are about to give birth or who have just brought a child into the world.”
During a press conference on Thursday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio commented on the NYPD patrol guide provisions that led to the lawsuit. “I think that was inhumane and we don’t want to see that ever happen again. […] I think it’s a really important example of something that needs to change and if it has not been changed already, we will change it for sure.”
The settlement has been covered by CNN, ABC News, the New York Post, the Daily Beast, and Gothamist.