Woman was forced to give birth alone upstairs in Maryland jail, lawsuit says

A woman who said she was left alone to deliver her baby on the dirty concrete floor of her Maryland prison cell filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday alleging prison nurses ignored her cries and pleas for help. help for six hours.

Jazmin Valentine alleges that some nurses working for the prison’s contracted medical provider, Pennsylvania-based PrimeCare Medical, Inc., said she was getting off drugs, not on the job, and that some prison staff prison and medical staff mocked her, saying she was just trying to get out of her cell late at night in July 2021 at the Washington County Jail in Hagerstown.

Valentine claims she punched the walls of her solitary confinement cell, which had no blankets or sheets, during her most painful contractions and pulled out what she believed to be her baby’s amniotic sac and pulled it out. slipped under her cell door to prove she was about to have a baby.

A fellow inmate, hearing Valentine’s calls, called Valentine’s boyfriend, who called the prison to implore staff to help him, according to the lawsuit.

Nurses also ignored a concern raised by a prison deputy about Valentine, but he did not contact any superiors, the lawsuit said. He discovered Valentine holding the baby girl in her cell about 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 the lawsuit.

Due to the unsanitary conditions in the cell, the baby developed a type of infection with staph bacteria that was resistant to many antibiotics, according to the lawsuit.

Valentine, who had never given birth before, said she feared her baby would die and bleed during delivery. 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 of her fears. “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, and prison nurses and deputies violated Valentine’s rights under state law and the Constitution.

County spokeswoman Danielle Weaver said the county had no comment. PrimeCare did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

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. Valentine was released a few days later and her baby is doing well, she said on Tuesday.

The lawsuit is similar to one filed in 2019 by a woman who gave birth alone in Denver jail the year before, claiming nurses and paramedics ignored her cries for help for five hours. Surveillance video released at the time by the law firm representing Diana Sanchez, who also represents Valentine, showed her lying on a narrow bed, screaming in pain and delivering a baby boy. The city eventually settled the lawsuit.

After Sanchez gave birth, 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 the hospital. Previously, the decision whether or not to move a pregnant inmate was left to prison nurses, but deputies were allowed to call an ambulance for someone in labor.

David Lane, whose law firm is involved in both cases, said he believed they highlighted both the 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.


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