A sheriff in Detroit has come under fire for his and his staff’s actions when a woman who was eight months pregnant was sent back three times to her cell, before she finally had to give birth on the jail floor.
Anthony Wickersham, Macomb County Sheriff, defended their decisions, saying his medical staff acted accordingly. This was despite video footage showing inmate Jessica Preston being sent back to her cell after she informed the staff she was in labor, Fox News reports.
Preston had been incarcerated for driving on a suspended license. It was her first offense, but a judge told her to stay in jail for 14 days leading up to her court date when she was unable to pay a $10,000 cash bond.
According to Wickersham, “Two [employees] were working that day. They were on the phone with the doctor. The information at that time, the baby started to come, they took her off the cot, which is close to the wall, put her on the floor on a mattress and the baby was delivered.”
Preston informed local media outlet Local 4 that on her fifth day in prison, she called for help at 7:30 a.m. She told the deputies she was in labor and needed medical attention. She was told,
‘We don’t believe you We think you’re lying and you’re not in labor. We’d be able to tell. There are certain things that are more apparent, so go back to your cell.’
She asked for help a second time at 11:30 a.m. and video footage shows her being escorted to the medical area. According to Preston, the staff called her a liar and sent her back. Around 90 minutes later, she returned for a third time with blood on her leg and was transferred to a cell near the medical area.
Wickersham said the nearest hospital is three minutes away, but the baby came too fast for the staff to bring Preston in. He said, “I don’t have the medical records. The mother has them. I think that in all fairness the medical records should be brought out and let the people see what the medical staff did each time she was brought down.”
Preston’s son, Elijah, was born a month early at less than five pounds. Thomas Chastain, Preston’s husband, is furious that he missed the birth and was not able to cut the baby’s umbilical cord.
Preston said, “I don’t know how you can ignore something like that. To me, when I came to them bleeding, that should have been the real [sign.] I mean, I should have gone first thing in the morning. But when I come to you bleeding, eight months pregnant and bleeding, you go to the hospital.”