A woman was forced to deliver her baby alone in her “isolated cell” at the North Broward Bureau jail in Pompano Beach, FL, reports the Miami Herald. Broward County public defender Howard Finkelstein wrote a letter to the Broward County Sheriff's Office to outline the complaint on behalf of the inmate, Tammy Jackson.
“Just imagine going through the trauma of delivering a baby, screaming for help, people are within earshot, and no one comes to your aid from 4 a.m., when the contractions start, until 10 a.m.,” writes Broward County chief assistant public defender Gordon Weekes, who also signed the letter. According to Finkelstein, Jackson began complaining of labor pains at 3 a.m. ET. Corrections staff allegedly did not contact ambulatory services to take her to the hospital; instead, Finkelstein writes, staff attempted to contact the jail’s on-call physician. By 7:22 a.m., the physician had not yet arrived and Jackson was still experiencing labor contractions in her cell. At 9 a.m., Jackson was bleeding and was still not under medical care; the baby was delivered an hour later.
Finkelstein also writes that the sheriff’s staff knew Jackson was mentally ill and pregnant when she entered jail on March 27, because she was placed in the infirmary wing. She was arrested on an outstanding warrant and was awaiting trial. Jackson also underwent a psychiatric evaluation last month and was placed in an “isolated cell”.
“It is unconscionable that any woman, particularly a mentally ill woman, would be abandoned in her cell to deliver her own baby,” he wrote in the letter. “Your staff did not protect either Ms. Jackson or her child. Despite their neglect and callous indifference, both Ms. Jackson and her child survived. It remains to be seen how this gross negligence will affect Ms. Jackson’s already fragile mental health.”
A spokesperson for the Broward Sheriff’s Office told the Herald that “the baby was placed with an appropriate caregiver,” but did not provide a statement about the wellbeing of Jackson.
Refinery29 has reached out to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office for comment.