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I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.

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Seductive Musings

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A real happy ending — 2nd UPDATE


The bill took some big strides on Monday.

First, it made it out of the House Judiciary Committee on vote of 10 to 1 in favor. I testified first, followed by a long list of witnesses ranging from activists to a former inmate who gave birth shackled to legal experts to an OB/GYN and Laraine, the nurse-midwife.

One of the lawmakers really didn’t understand what was at stake and kept asking how we planned to protect the guards from these dangerous women if they were unshackled. Clearly, this man has never had a baby.

Another lawmaker called current policy in the state “barbaric.”

Still another thanked the representative who is sponsoring the bill in the House for bringing the issue forward. He said he felt it was really important and thanked her for doing it. And guess what? She thanked me and credited my research and my persistence for the fact that they were about to vote on the bill. That made me feel wonderful, and I’m sure I was red as a tomato.

Then they voted, as I said, 10 to 1 to pass the bill.

I was at my desk at the paper when I heard from Pamela Clifton, who was still at the Capitol, that the bill had already been presented for second reading on the House floor and had passed. So that hurdle was jumped quite easily — and without any nail-biting on my part.

UPDATE — The bill passed the House on third reading this morning 62 in favor, 2 abstentions and 1 no vote. Talk about bipartisan support! The representative who voted against it was the same one who grilled me yesterday and who voted against it in committee.

Senate re-adoption — Tuesday, 2:30 PM. The Senate voted with no fuss and no objections to re-adopt the House version of the bill just moments ago. Woohoo!

Only ONE hurdle remains:

Governor’s desk — He’d be an idiot to veto it, particularly given the high level of bipartisan support the bill has earned. Once he signs it, Colorado will have a new law and be the eighth state in the United States to ban the shackling of pregnant inmates in labor.

Here’s what the bill will change:

No inmate, except for the worst of the worst, can be shackled during labor and delivery. So they’ll be able to use the hot tub and make use of other comforts that other women use.

No belly belts or ankle shackles on pregnant women ever.

If pregnant women are shackled, it must be using the least restrictive restraint necessary to ensure public safety.

A medical person will be present when an inmate is strip searched on return from prison after having a baby.

There will be a basic, uniform standard for all jurisdictions — state, county, city, juvenile, adult.

So we really are in the home stretch here, and I’m so glad it’s gone well. I feel good about what we’ve accomplished and the role I’ve been able to play in that. I hope to join with some other women I met through this process to put together a database of resources for people in other states who want to ban shackling.

What does this have to do with my life as a romance novelist? That’s an easy question to answer.



Unlawful Contact was my way of working through all the terrible things I’d seen and heard about the treatment of female offenders in prison and jail. The sadness I felt about those things made their way into the story. I put a fantasy ending on that story, in which Reece passes a bill addressing a host of wrongs, shackling during labor among them. But it was just a fantasy.

Now that HEA will be more reality than fantasy. And all the Megans out there — the women like her here in Colorado — will have one less indignity to face as they try to put their lives together again.

My part in this is more or less over, so I won’t be driving to Denver again till the bill is signed. I hope to attend the bill signing ceremony and perhaps take my nephew with me so that he can see what that’s like.

My older son, Alec, graduates from Colorado State University this weekend with a double degree in anthropology and history, so that will keep me busy from Friday on. I am super proud of him. He has worked his way through college, which has meant working almost full time while holding down a full course load. That’s very hard work, and I’m so happy he’s finally come to the end. So is he! (That’s a major understatement!)

There probably won’t be much time for writing. So I’ll be catching up with Natalie and Zach as I am able.

16 comments:

ronna15 said...

Oh My GOD!!!! That is so awesome! You actually did it! That's amazing Pamela!!! Wow, I hope that's evective or could be effective here too, in AZ, and all over the country. I mean, even though the woman is dangerous, it doesn't really matter if you're giving birth. That's painful enough. And it's just so degrading for woman. C'mon, you'd allow them to bring life to thi world while in chains? Horrible! Anyway, that's really wondeful Pamela! Congratulations.

Also, congratulations to your son. My props to him cause I'm taking an Antropology class right now for my Science credit, and I'm bairley getting a C, which is just yuck! I mean, I shudder when I get a B. But oh well, I expected that. I was never good at anything science related (which just sucks cause I love everthing science), so I was happy just to get a C.

Congratulations again to both of you!

Oh, and also, belated Happy Mother's day. I wasn't onling for a while because of finals so I'm just greeting you now.

Take care!

-ronna ;D

Crystal said...

Well done, Pamela, well done. Professionally and personally.

Debbie H said...

I'm so proud of you! Said my prayers and will continue to until it is a law.

Major pats on the back for Alec! That is one determined man! Hugs to his mamma, too!

Scorpio M. said...

Your own personal & professional HEA! This is great news. Your dedication to this bill is nothing short of amazing, I can't think of many people who would be so dedicated. Bravo!

Ronlyn said...

Such wonderful news about the bill. I'm sooo proud of you! (((((((((hugs))))))))

And many congratulations to Alec. I'm proud of him too. I worked my way through college and it is NOT easy. I raise my glass. *cheers*

RitaSV said...

What a huge relief on so many fronts. So many women will benefit from your hard work and may not even realize they have you to thank for the freedom they will have at a profoundly intimate moment.

Congratulations to your son for his amazing accomplishment, too! Looks like 2010 will be a memorable one for all the good things.

I'm so happy for you!

Diane W. said...

Wow, that is truly SPECTACULAR news!! I cannot believe how fast that bill has moved forward! Congratulations....you should be very proud of all you've done! And, I would be very interested in a link to the database when you have it finished.

Big congrats to Alec, too!! That is awesome!! Have a wonderful time at his graduation. Bittersweet watching the kiddos grow up (my oldest is 19 now), but so satisfying at the same time.

Loved the photo of the Denver capitol building. Made me miss Colorado! We'd always drive by there going to the library or dropping my daughter, Tessa, off at Colorado ballet.

Diane

Elise said...

Wow, Pamela,
I just have one word for you:
R.E.S.P.E.C.T!
What you've done is just awesome. Congratulations!
And congrats to your son too!
Big hugs from Paris!

Luci said...

This is really really great Pamela! You totally rock!!

Lori said...

Clearly, this man has never had a baby.
This made me laugh, because it's so true!

Congrats on the bill! I hope that folks show this to their kids, so they can see that 1 person CAN make a difference in the process. Go you!!

And congrats on your son graduating from college. What a fabulous accomplishment!

Congrats to you and Alec. He must ge his deterination from hs mother! Pat yourselves on te back, both of you.

Maybe in his next life, that man who opposed the bill will be a pregnant woman in prison. It would look good on him, wouldn't it?

Mary G said...

WOW Pamela
The government machine moves so slowly so if you want something done ask PAMELA CLARE. That's just
amazing. Congrats to Alec too. Lots to celebrate this week.

Sigh -Unlawful Contact - my first PC book will always be special.

JennJ said...

WOOHOOO Pamela I am so happy to hear that it passed and with that big of a margin that is outstanding!!!!!!!! I'm so glad and so proud of you for your hard work on it as well!

Big Congrats to Alec that is wonderful!!!!!!!! I know your super proud of him as you should be!

Pamela: High Fives to you for being so instrumental in getting this bill passed. It's still hard to believe that women in labour are/were treated so barbarically.
And what a proud mom you must be for Alec!! I know I was proud as punch when my son graduated university too.

Tammy said...

Congratulations to both you and Alec.

Mitzi H. said...

Way To Go!!!! I'm so excited for you and so happy to see this bill passed. You had me sweating there for awhile....didn't know if the reps were going to use it as a means to further (their own) agenda OR do the right thing and let this bill pass the way it was meant to be.

Congrats to you and your son on his graduation!!! My son also worked thru college and played football full time plus maintained a 3.8 GPA.

The message you and your son give us all is "If you want it and you are willing to work for it, you can make all your dreams come true".

Congrats and enjoy your weekend!!! Mitzi H.

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