An internal investigation is underway after an incarcerated woman with a mental illness reportedly gave birth in a jail cell despite asking staffers for help.
According to the Miami Herald, Tammy Jackson, 34, had her daughter at North Broward Bureau jail on the morning of April 10. She reportedly told jail staff that she was experiencing contractions roughly seven hours before giving birth.
The Herald reported Broward County police were alerted two days later and launched an internal investigation into the matter.
“She was forced to deliver her baby alone,” public defender Howard Finkelstein wrote in a two-page letter which urged for a review of current detention policies.
“Not only was Ms. Jackson’s health callously ignored, the life of her child was also put at grave risk.”
Finkelstein claimed jail staff didn’t transport Jackson to the hospital and instead tried to contact an on-call physician. After four hours, the doctor reportedly hadn’t arrived. Two hours after that, Jackson claimed she was bleeding and alone in her cell.
“Hours passed as Ms. Jackson continued in labor, alone in an isolation cell,” the letter stated, according to ABC News.
In an email to the outlet, a police spokeswoman said a medical team, including a physician and two nurses, treated the mother and newborn. The Child Protective Investigations Section was also notified and the baby was placed with “an appropriate caregiver,” she said.
According to the Herald, Jackson was arrested on March 27 and housed at the medium-security jail for possession of cocaine, which she was initially charged with in January. However, a warrant was issued after she reportedly failed to report for a pretrial hearing.
Chief Assistant Public Defender Gordon Weekes said Jackson had undergone a competency hearing late last month. However, he declined to divulge the nature of Jackson’s mental illness, only describing it to the outlet as “significant.”
Finkelstein alleged that the jail knew she was pregnant and had initially placed her in the infirmary “so her medical issues could be monitored.”
Weekes said Jackson remains in custody but is currently in the hospital recovering. The baby’s condition remains undisclosed.
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