Erica Thompson lost her newborn baby that she delivered in jail. The grieving mother has claimed that she was ignored by Alachua County jail staff as she screamed in pain.
Last Tuesday, Thompson was forced to give birth to her daughter in a bunk at Alachua County Jail. The newborn died hours after Emergency Medical Services personnel finally responded, The Gainesville Sun reported.
The woman was housed in the female infirmary section of the jail. The protocol for pregnant inmates is that they are assessed every 15 minutes, according to a statement by Sheriff Lt. Kaley Behl.
However, this story begins long before Thompson was booked into jail. When officers came to her home to arrest her for a probation violation on Monday morning, she reportedly was already experiencing contractions. She was not moved to the infirmary until Monday afternoon. She delivered her newborn at around 11 p.m. that night– despite her only being six months pregnant.
Thompson said she went into active labor while in her cell and screamed in pain, but the jail staff was unresponsive. Based on statements by Lt. Behl, they may not have believed her because they only called EMS once they saw she was “really” in labor.
“I was telling them I had my baby. My baby is out of me somebody, please get my baby, and they was [sic] like ‘What?’ I’m like I told y’all her head was out of me, my whole baby is out of me now. So they came in and lifted the blanket and stuff, and that was when they saw I was holding my child,” the traumatized new mother told the news outlet.
Thompson is also upset with the hospital she was transported to from jail. She believes that UF Health Shands Hospital did not do enough to save the newborn, noting that they handed her the baby and told her nothing could have been done to save her. The hospital has refused to comment.
While jail officials say they are investigating what happened with the newborn and her mother, this case is noteworthy in the face of Florida’s Tammy Jackson Act that passed last year.
The law requires that inmates in labor are immediately transferred to a medical facility, given care, and housed restrictively within the jail. The law is named after Tammy Jackson, an inmate who gave birth in a Broward County jail and dropped her newborn due to being ignored by the staff.
The community is supporting Thompson and held a protest at the jail last week over the death of the newborn and how her mother was ignored. They rightfully want answers.
Thompson said she would never forget the experience.