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Inmate gives birth

Inmate gives birth

Please attribute the following statement to Phil McCarthy, General Manager, Public Prisons Service:

“I am concerned that the staff involved in the incident of an inmate giving birth at Christchurch Hospital recently are being treated unfairly and judged via the media.

“Two Corrections Officers attended the birth, one of whom had been working closely with the inmate on birth coaching and gave the inmate much-needed support during her pregnancy and throughout the delivery. They were present at the inmate’s request, did an excellent job, and are very disappointed to find they have been criticised by third parties.

“Following the birth, the inmate, her mother and the midwife expressed their gratitude to both officers for their support and diplomatic handling of such a sensitive event. The officers are satisfied that at all times they acted humanely and treated the inmate with respect and dignity.

“The management of the birth and the baby had been previously agreed with the inmate and her family, CYF and the hospital as well as Christchurch Women’s Prison.

“The normal policy for the use of handcuffs is that they be removed upon entry to the labour ward. The way this inmate was managed is consistent with procedure. From the time the inmate entered the labour ward at 1.30pm until the baby was born at 7.20pm the inmate was not handcuffed other than to leave the labour ward for a cigarette at about 4pm.

The impression given by the Howard League and the media that the handcuffs were removed as the baby’s head was crowning, is a total distortion of the facts, as I understand them.

“The inmate attended a post-natal examination four days later escorted by two Corrections Officers. Christchurch Women’s Prison management had instructed that handcuffs be removed during the examination if requested by medical staff. It is clear they were not removed but it is not clear to the Department why this did not happen. The Department is investigating why instructions were not followed on this matter.”

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