Tammy Jackson, a 34-year old mentally-ill woman, who was pregnant while in jail, says her cries for help were ignored, forcing her to give birth alone in an isolated cell without any medical assistance. It was a traumatic incident for her but she was still thankful that her daughter made it out alive.
On April 10, Jackson reportedly asked the prison guards for help when she felt contractions and was “screaming in pain” inside her jail cell. Instead of bringing her to the hospital, the staff decided to just contact an on-call doctor who they were only able to reach four hours after. In the doctor’s absence, Jackson delivered her child alone in her prison cell and was found holding the baby about 7 hours after she first asked for help.
Public defender Howard Finkelstein expressed his disappointment on the incident. He noted in the letter addressed to Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony that the officers at the detention facility were made aware that Jackson is pregnant and suffers from bipolar schizophrenia, but still failed to “protect either Ms. Jackson or her child.”
“[In] her time of extreme need and vulnerability, [the Broward Sheriff’s Office] neglected to provide Ms. Jackson with the assistance and medical care all mothers need and deserve. Not only was Ms. Jackson’s health callously ignored, the life of her child was also put at grave risk,” Finkelstein wrote.
Jackson and the baby girl was eventually taken to the hospital and both of them survived. Still, Jackson couldn’t forget the traumatic incident.
“It was horrifying. It was horrifying,” Jackson told Local 10 News. “When she fell, I had to bend down to pick her up and tell her, ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for that to happen.’ She was still crying. I didn’t even get clean before I had her. Also, she had hit the floor, and to me that was hard because she was just coming out of me.”
Meanwhile, Finkelstein demanded an “immediate review of the medical and isolation practices in place in all detention facilities.” An internal affairs investigation on the incident and other incidents that also involved Wellpath, a private contractor which provided health care to several correctional facilities, is currently ongoing.