Former Chicago inmates: We were handcuffed while giving birth

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.


Former Chicago inmates Simone Jackson and Danielle Bryant are seeking to file a class action lawsuit against the Cook County Sheriff’s Department. Both claim they were forced to give birth while shackled and handcuffed to the hospital bed.

Jackson said, “It’s dehumanizing. It’s degrading. It’s immoral.” Jackson and three other former Cook County inmates described how they felt when they gave birth while imprisoned.

“I couldn’t have family there,” Bryant said. “Nobody to support me, help me. The nurses were in and out. All I had was the police officer.”

Jackson and Bryant were being held on theft charges when they went into labor and were transferred to Chicago’s Stroger Hospital to give birth.

Bryant’s restraints were removed right before the actual birth. But Jackson says her restraints never came off.

“It is not even feasible to run when you are actually going to have a baby,” Jackson said. “There is no way to do that.”

Attorney Tom Morrissey said, “The sheriff’s office is violating the clear state standard. The federal law, constitutional standard is being abused also because it’s cruel.”

“It’s barbaric and it should stop,” said attorney Kenneth Flaxman.

Both women say they are filing this suit partly to speak up for those pregnant inmates who don’t have a voice.

“I think the policy should be changed immediately,” Jackson said.

The women’s lawyers say as many as 100 women held in Cook County facilities have been handcuffed or shackled while giving birth.