Mother-to-be Needs Better Care

Jul 29th, 2008 | By | Category: Pretrial Detention

We cannot name the person or the county in this report because we need to protect the privacy and safety of the inmate and her family who shared her story with TJP.

Earlier this month, 18 year-old Jessica B. was arrested for violating her probation, resulting in a six-month sentence. At the time of her arrest she was three months pregnant, and she told the guards that. The jail was also aware that Jessica B. was diagnosed as a person with bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia. Jessica asked to see an obstetrician, but jail staff told her no.

Eventually, a nurse did use a Doppler to check the baby’s heartbeat. (The Doppler is a device that is placed against the skin and magnifies the sound waves.) This is the point where Jessica said a little prayer, but the nurse shared the news with Jessica that unfortunately, her baby was dead. Jessica refused to accept that as the truth.

Jessica’s mother had been asking the jail to get her daughter an appointment with an obstetrician and after hearing about the exam and that Jessica was losing weight, she grew desperate. Her mom contacted the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, and they emailed the Texas Jail Project, a small group of volunteers who advocate for inmates in local jails. TJP contacted the Texas Commission on Jail Standards; in turn, their complaints investigator called the jail about Jessica.

The jail responded to that inquiry quickly and suddenly there was a better diet available and a doctor to examine Jessica. This doctor is a well-known retired physician in her small town; however, he is also well known for being heartless and not caring for those who have a mental illness.

As Jessica has been going through all of these problems trying to get the proper care while pregnant and incarcerated, it turns out she also isn’t being treated correctly for her bipolar and schizophrenia. The doctor does not have any specialty in psychiatry and her medicines have not been the proper dosages.

During the week of July 21st, Jessica started spotting— and she remembered reading an article that spotting is a sign of miscarriage. She became very scared and made a phone call home. Her mother heard the news and said she very much wanted to hug Jessica and to take her to see an obstetrician.

Knowing that she couldn’t do either, Jessica’s mom suggested her daughter stay in bed and rest, to see if the spotting would stop. During this time, the nurse checked the baby’s heartbeat once more. A heartbeat was heard! The nurse then did a sonogram so Jessica could have a picture of her baby.

At present, Jessica still needs to see an OB/GYN. Her father has contacted the lieutenant on duty about the situation, and her mom has made several calls, trying to find people and/or organizations that could possibly help her help her daughter. The director of the Texas Jail Project is currently in communication with other state officials about the treatment of Jessica B.

Of course, all of this stress and worrying about her baby has been hard on Jessica. She is currently waiting to be transferred to a state facility in Gatesville, Texas. At seven months, she will be transferred again to another jail. Hopefully, she will be released before her due date, so she can deliver her child in a hospital with her family and her own doctor to support her. Otherwise, if she has her baby while incarcerated, there is a possibility that she will be shackled during delivery. Also, once she has her child, her family will have three days to pick up the baby before he or she goes to foster care.

Tags:

Leave a Comment

Name: Email: (Email will not be made public.)