Tammy Jackson, a mentally ill pregnant woman, was forced to deliver her baby in an “isolation cell” in a Florida detention center in April, according to public defender Howard Finkelstein in a letter to Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony.
According to the Washington Post, she was escorted to her cell alone, only to have a child one morning after complaining of pain.
The letter, signed by the county’s Chief Assistant Public Defender, alleges Jackson was found lying in her cell holding her newborn baby on the morning of April 10 after complaining of contractions a few minutes after 3 a.m. that morning.
“I am incensed and heartbroken after learning that a mentally ill client was forced to deliver her child alone in a jail cell,” Finkelstein said in his letter, which called for an immediate review of medical and isolation practices, adding Jackson was “forced to deliver her baby alone.”
According to Gina Carter, Broward County SHeriff’s Office Spokesperson, a doctor and two nurses arrived to care for mother and child, though she did not mention when they arrived. The Sheriff’s office said they were informed of the incident two days after Jackson gave birth and initiated a probe when they were made aware.
Carter told the Miami Herald that Jackson was in custody for drug-related charges, and that the child is in the care of an “appropriate caregiver.” She was arrested on cocaine charges in March, released, and re-arrested after failing to report to pre-trial services.
The letter also alleges that Broward County Jail staff and medical officials knew Jackson was nearing the end of her pregnancy when she was booked in late March. Jail staff contacted a doctor who arrived to the hospital after 7 a.m., according to the letter. Jackson was left alone bleeding in her cell until she gave birth without a doctor or jail staff member present.
“It is unconscionable that any woman, particularly a mentally ill woman, would be abandoned in her cell to deliver her own baby,” Finklestein wrote. “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.”