The Phoenix Flyer

Activists want answers about how woman in solitary confinement gave birth in Broward County jail

By: - May 21, 2019 4:18 pm

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A coalition of former women prisoners and other activist groups are demanding answers from local and state law enforcement officials after a mentally-ill woman gave birth to a baby in an isolation cell in the North Broward Bureau in Pompano Beach last month.

According to the Broward Sheriff’s office, Tammy Jackson, 34, went into labor in the early morning hours of April 7, but instead of delivering in a hospital, she was left alone in her cell. A deputy reported later that morning of seeing her “squatting and screaming in pain.”

Other pregnant women, who were inmates at the jail where Jackson gave birth, told WPLG-TV that they heard her screams. Six hours and 54 minutes after Jackson asked for help, she gave birth to the baby, WPLG reported.

“Women and girls in general are not treated with dignity and humanity in the prison system, and Tammy Jackson’s case tells us just how much worse it can be for black and brown incarcerated women,” said Valencia Gunder, criminal justice program manager for New Florida Majority, on behalf of the Dignity Florida Coalition. “No pregnant woman should ever be placed in solitary confinement and left to her own during childbirth. That is unacceptable.”

Dignity Florida is an organization of former prisoners and allies formed to address the treatment of women and girls in jail. The group recently sent a letter to Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony Gregory, the Florida Department of Corrections, the Broward County State Attorney’s office and the Broward County Public Defender’s office with a list of demands.

They include:

-An immediate investigation and public report of the incident involving Ms. Jackson, including accountability measures taken against all those who were responsible for her health and safety, and that of her child.

-The immediate termination of all correctional officers who were responsible for or complacent in her neglect.

-Public disclosure and transparency on the process of how pregnant incarcerated women are handled and what treatment is given to them while in custody.

-The termination of confining pregnant women in Florida jails.

-Establishment of policies and procedures to treat and protect incarcerated women who pregnant; survivors of sexual abuse; and/or suffer mental disability.

-Assessment and investment in rehabilitation programs for female inmates.

The Broward Sheriff’s office has launched an investigation into how the mentally ill woman was left to have her baby in a jail cell, a spokesman for the department told CNN .

Jackson is being held in jail for trespassing and drug possession charges.

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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.