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Former inmate speaks out on being shackled while in labor

Former inmate speaks out on being shackled while in labor

By Krista Hostetler. CREATED Jun 28, 2012

North Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A former inmate, who claims she was shackled while in labor, is suing the Nevada Department of Corrections.

Valerie Nabors, a resident in Clark County, served time at Florence McClure Women's Correctional Center (FMWCC) in North Las Vegas for attempted grand larceny. She stole around $250 in casino chips.

But after state lawmakers banned shackling inmates in labor, her attorneys believe her case is a clear violation of the law.

"They go by their own rules, they do their own thing and the reason why, is because they always get away with it," said Nabors.

She told Action News officers shackled her legs as she went to the hospital to give birth, even though medical personnel strongly discouraged it.

"She [an ambulance EMT] explained to him, you can't do this because I still have to check her and he just said 'oh well' and proceeded to put the leg shackles on and went back into the facility," explained Nabors.

Her attorney Staci Pratt, with the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, said, "When you shackle a woman at her ankles, making it difficult for medical personnel to check her, you're sending a message that our primary obligation in society is not taking care of women, but to punish them needlessly and I think it's cruel and sadistic."

Nabors said, even at the hospital, officers continued to push for the shackles.

"This is not a time when a woman is thinking about escape. This is not a time when a woman is thinking about injuring anyone. This is a time when a woman is trying to get through the process of child birth with dignity and with respect for her health and the health of her child," said Pratt.

After giving birth, Nabors held her baby, but a short time later said she was shackled again.

"I understand that I did break the law, I understand that. But that doesn't mean I should get treated unfairly. Women have babies everyday and there's certain procedures for that," said Nabors.

Despite what happened to her, Nabors said she's grateful for her baby.

"My baby is beautiful. So that's good and she's healthy and every thing's all right. And that's a blessing, thank god," expressed Nabors.

She said when she returned to the correctional facility after giving birth, workers took away everything the hospital gave her, including her prescribed breast pump, which is a whole other portion of the lawsuit.

"My hope is that Valerie's strength and courage will be a vehicle for making sure this does not happen to any other women in Nevada or anywhere else in the United States," said Pratt.

The Department of Corrections hasn't commented on the suit. It has until July 17 to respond.