FORT LAUDERDALE, FL — A pregnant Florida woman was left alone in a jail cell for nearly seven hours after asking for help and eventually gave birth alone, her attorney said Friday.
Public defender Howard Finkelstein demanded an immediate review of medical and isolation practices in a letter to Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony.
"I am incensed and heartbroken after learning that a mentally ill client was forced to deliver her child alone in a jail cell," Finkelstein wrote.
Finkelstein said his 34-year-old client complained of contractions and bleeding in the early morning hours of April 10. Jail staff attempted to contact an on-call doctor rather than take the woman to a hospital, the letter said.
The doctor advised that he would check on the inmate when he arrived at the jail.
The attorney wrote that the Broward Sheriff's Office was aware of the woman's pregnancy since her March arrest on drug charges.
He said medical records indicate the baby was not premature or unexpected. A sheriff's office report said a guard entered the cell after seeing the inmate with her newborn but didn't mention the earlier requests for help.
A nurse and doctor entered the cell to check on the mother and child, the report said. They were eventually sent to a nearby hospital. No injuries were reported The sheriff's office released a statement saying an internal affairs investigation was launched two days after the birth.
Child Protective Investigations Section was notified, and the baby was placed with an appropriate caregiver, officials said.