The Broward County Sheriff’s office fired two top administrators after a woman who went into labor in her jail cell was not given medical care despite screams of pain.
The woman, who suffers from mental illness, was ultimately forced to give birth to her son in the jail cell, according to a letter sent to Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony Wednesday by the Broward Public Defender’s Office.
“She was denied the dignity of a hospital bed and the assistance of a physician,” according to the letter, signed by Executive Chief Assistant Public Defender Gordon H. Weekes Jr. “The repeated and callous indifference to the medical needs of a laboring, mentally ill mother is of grave concern.”
The sheriff’s office fired Colonel Gary Palmer and Lieutenant Angela Neely Thursday after an administrative review of the circumstances surrounding the birth.
“I conducted a review of the matter and determined that command level failures occurred by Colonel Palmer and Lieutenant Colonel Neely in this case,” Sheriff Tony said in a statement. “They grossly failed this agency and this inmate.”
The 28-year-old woman was arrested on burglary charges on Sept. 6 after the owner of a home in Lighthouse Point who was out of town saw her in the house on his home security system. The woman is now back at home and her son is in the custody of the Department of Children and Families, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
The woman’s delivery in late September came less than three months after the Tammy Jackson Healthy Pregnancies for Incarcerated Women Act took effect.
Last year, jail inmate Tammy Jackson, who is mentally ill, was forced to deliver her child in an isolation cell. At the time, Broward County’s Public Defender Howard Finkelstein said she delivered the baby alone, while a BSO spokeswoman said a medical team attended to the mother and child.
“It is unconscionable that any woman, particularly a mentally ill woman, would be abandoned in her cell to deliver her own baby,” the public defender wrote at the time.
Weekes said the fact that two women were denied medical care and forced to give birth in their jail cells in the past two years suggests a “systematic lack of concern” on the part of the Sheriff’s office.
“With all the things that can go wrong, to not give medical care is mind boggling,” Weekes said.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office said that it is continuing to investigate the incident.