A federal judge last week refused to dismiss a former inmate's allegation that Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and the county implemented an unconstitutional policy requiring that pregnant inmates be shackled while giving birth.
Clarke and the county had argued that the claim by the former inmate, identified as "Jane Doe" in court filings, should be dismissed because she did not exhaust all potential administrative remedies available to her before filing suit, as required by law.
U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller, citing an earlier ruling from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, said that Doe was not required to pursue a grievance because there was little the jail could do to rectify the harm the shackling caused her as and after she gave birth to her daughter in October 2014.
"Defendants’ allegedly harmful shackling thus concluded upon the birth of her daughter, and so “[s]he had no opportunity to grieve [the shackling] until after the harm done by it was complete and could not be undone by the defendants,” Stadtmueller said in his opinion.
Doe filed suit in 2014, alleging that she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Corrections Officer Xavier D. Thicklen while she was a County Jail inmate. Her shackling claim was added to the suit later. Doe originally sought class action status for that claim, but dropped the request in March.
The county has not disputed the claims.
The trial in the case is set for June 5.
Read earlier reporting on the case here, here, and here.
Gretchen Schuldt is executive director of the Wisconsin Justice Initiative.
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