APRIL 16, 2004 - Posted at 7:38 a.m. CDT
LITTLE ROCK, AR - The state Correction Department has loosened its policy of keeping pregnant prisoners in chains until shortly before they give birth.
Under the new policy, women who are considered escape or safety risks will be held with soft restraints. All other prisoners will be under the supervision of a guard. Department leaders came to the compromise after meeting with legislators and non-profit representatives earlier this week.
The change follows a complaint by a woman who gave birth while serving a sentence and said she was shackled during much of her labor and chained again shortly after she had her baby.
The department said the new policy will prevent escapes but will also put less of a burden on women preparing to give birth.