Activists call for deputies to be fired after inmate gives birth in Pompano Beach jail

Dignity Florida Coalition sends letters to officials about April 10 incident

By Layron Livingston - Reporter

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. - A Broward Sheriff's Office Internal Affairs probe is underway after a mentally ill woman gave birth alone in a jail cell.

Activists are now turning up the pressure to make sure someone is held accountable.

It all began as a "Leave it to Layron" investigation, prompting a slight shift in how the Sheriff's Office and its inmate health care provider are responding.

Normally, the diapers, gifts and baby shower come before the baby does, but Tammy Jackson’s story is anything but normal.

"It feels like freedom again," she told Local 10 News. "It was neglect, emotional abuse and distress."

Jackson gave birth to her daughter, Miranda, on April 10 while in custody at the North Broward Bureau in Pompano Beach.

Jackson, who has a mental illness, was alone in an isolation cell when a deputy reported hearing her screaming in pain and later saw her standing in her cell, holding her baby in her arms.

"No woman should be treated that way," said Tray Johns, a criminal justice organizer for the New Florida Majority and member of the Dignity Florida Coalition.

"As women and as formerly incarcerated women, and some of us as mothers, it struck that it was incumbent upon the Dignity Coalition to speak out against this," Johns said. 

Dignity Florida sent a letter this week to the Broward County sheriff, state attorney, public defender and the state Corrections Department.

In the letter, the coalition calls for an immediate investigation into Jackson's incident, the immediate firing of the jail officers involved and an end to solitary confinement for pregnant women.

"They should be held accountable and responsible for their actions," Johns said. "We have to ensure that things like that don't happen, ever again."

A separate online petition also calls for the deputies involved to be fired and it's now tallied more than 36,000 signatures.

Sheriff talks about investigation on TWISF

The Sheriff's Office released a statement that read: 

"In addition to the investigation being conducted by the BSO Internal Affairs Division, the Department of Detention is also conducting a thorough review of policies and practices of our medical provider to make sure inmates are receiving the highest level of care. The policy review team will determine if there are any deficiencies, look for areas of improvement and implement changes if necessary. Furthermore, if the investigation reveals any neglect of care, individuals will be held accountable for their actions."

Activists said every jail and prison should be on notice after Jackson's experience.

"That we will be watching our women and we will be listening to our sisters, and we will ensure that their dignity is safeguarded," Johns said. 

Wellpath, the jail's medical provider, also sent Local 10 News a statement that read:

"Wellpath is committed to providing the appropriate medical care and attention that all mothers deserve. While Wellpath does not agree with all of the statements recently published, due to patient privacy concerns, we are unable to comment on specific details regarding this incident."
 

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