Broward Sheriff's Office closes investigation into mentally ill inmate giving birth
Woman gave birth alone while
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – It was an anonymous complaint by a former North Broward Bureau inmate that launched an internal affairs probe April 12.
That inmate was concerned about another inmate, Tammy Jackson, and claimed she was neglected, forced to give birth, alone, in an isolation cell at the jail facility.
Broward Sheriff's Office Internal Affairs investigators interviewed corrections officers, inmates, doctors and nurses and concluded its investigation in September.
"There (was) no evidence that any BSO employee mistreated or neglected Jackson, or failed to provide proper care," the report reads. "All evidence indicated that the deputies regularly conducted physical checks on Inmate Jackson."
Attorney Teresa Williams disagrees. She's a civil rights activist and criminal justice reformist who now represents Jackson.
"It's not right for people that are incarcerated to be treated as though they are less than human," she said. "It's been a very difficult process for her."
Several sections of the report were redacted, but it reveals investigators tried speaking with Jackson while she was hospitalized at Broward Health Medical Center's Baker Act Unit. Jackson declined, saying she did not want to speak with the deputies without her mother, or someone else present.
Jackson's mother told Local 10's Layron Livingston and the Leave it to Layron team that Jackson is bipolar and also suffers from schizophrenia.
The IA report requested and released to the LITL team detailed how Jackson had been arrested before and placed in isolation during previous stints at the NBB.
Inmates, deputies and nurses, alike, recalled Jackson had a history of being "violent" and "unpredictable"; she was reportedly "calm and quiet" the night before she gave birth, and later "kicked" and "banged" the door of her cell.
The report also noted Tammy refused to tell jail medical staff how far along she was; one nurse told investigators Jackson "never mentioned having contractions 'until the last minute'".
"I'm disappointed that parts of this report seem to assert that, somehow, Ms. Jackson is at fault," said Williams, who said Jackson's mental illness is well documented. She also pointed out a section of the report where an inmate trustee recalled Jackson being pregnant after a previous arrest in January.
"How is it that the medical provider for the jail can state that they are adequately caring for pregnant individuals when they don't even do an independent examination on a mentally ill individual, and they rely upon that person's account in order to be able to provide medical treatment?" Williams asked.
We know Jackson arrived at the jail March 27, just one day after an obstetrician-gynecologist visited the jail. At the time, the OB-GYN was only scheduled to see pregnant inmates twice a month.
A nurse for Wellpath, the jail's medical provider, recalled checking on Jackson, and finding no indication that she was in labor the night before she gave birth.
That nurse would later call the general practitioner who oversaw the jail infirmaries.
That doctor told investigators he was not allowed to perform gynecological examinations.
The report revealed Wellpath first suspended, and later fired, that doctor following Jackson's incident.
A nurse was also terminated, but the nurse never provided a statement or spoke with IA investigators.
The report detailed how the doctor and nurse assessed Jackson, then left her cell to prepare documents to have her taken to the hospital on a "nonemergency" status.
Jackson gave birth alone while staff members were working on the transport paperwork.
"They should have done better. Tammy Jackson deserved better, and so does every single woman that's incarcerated."
The internal affairs report also revealed Wellpath corporate representatives visited the NBB and implemented changes.
Medical staff will now remain with inmates scheduled to be taken to the hospital until those inmates leave the jail facility. A mid-level provider will examine inmates who test positive for pregnancy. An OB-GYN now visits with inmates each week.
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