A woman who gave birth to her baby alone on the dirty concrete floor of her prison cell after six hours of labor says her cries for help were ignored by staff.
Jazmin Valentine is suing the company that provided medical staff to the Washington County Jail in Hagerstown, Marylandalleging that nurses at Pennsylvania-based PrimeCare Medical, Inc. said she was getting off drugs and not in labor, and some prison staff laughed at her and said that she was just trying to get out of her cell.
Ms Valentine claims she punched the walls of her segregation unit, which lacked blankets or sheets, during her most painful contractions and pulled out what she believed to be her baby’s amniotic sac and put her there. slipped under her cell door to prove that she was going to have a baby.
A fellow inmate who heard the woman’s pleas and called Ms Valentine’s boyfriend, who called the prison to implore staff to help her, the lawsuit said.
The nurses also ignored a concern raised by a prison deputy about Ms Valentine, but he did not contact any superior, according to the lawsuit.
He discovered Ms Valentine holding her baby girl in her cell around 15 minutes after she was born just after midnight on July 4, 2021 and an ambulance was called to take them to hospital, according to court documents.
Ms Valentine, who had never given birth before, said she feared her baby would die and bleed to death while delivering him.
But realizing no one was going to help her, she said she was determined to try to give birth alone.
“In my brain, anything can happen,” she said. “I felt like I was in the hands of the devil, honestly.”
The lawsuit alleges that Washington County, Maryland, its sheriff’s department and sheriff, as well as prison nurses and deputies, violated Ms. Valentine’s rights under state law and the Constitution. American.
Ms Valentine was more than eight months pregnant when she was arrested for an alleged probation violation and taken to jail the day before she was due to give birth, according to the lawsuit.
She was released a few days later and her baby is fine, she said.
The complaint is similar to another filed in 2019 by a woman who gave birth alone in Denver jail the previous year – who claimed that nurses and assistants had ignored his cries for help for five hours on the job.
Surveillance footage showed Diana Sanchez screaming in agony before finally laying down on a cramped bed.
The footage was released by the same law firm that now represents Ms Valentine.
After Ms Sanchez delivered her baby, the Denver County Sheriff’s Department, which operates the jail, said it changed its policy to ensure pregnant inmates who are in any stage of labor are immediately taken to hospital. The decision whether or not to move a pregnant inmate was previously left to prison nurses.
David Lane, whose law firm is involved in both cases, said he believed they highlighted issues of privatization of health care behind bars and the attitudes of correctional administrators.
“As long as prison and prison administrators treat inmates as animals, these kinds of things will continue to happen,” he said.