A woman says a private healthcare provider and the jail it operated in, its staff, and a sheriff denied her reasonable access to care resulting in her giving birth in solitary confinement and losing her baby.
As of May 2014, a pending federal lawsuit stands against Wichita County Jail, Sheriff David Duke, Ladonna Anderson, a registered nurse, and Correctional Healthcare Management, Inc. (link), Anderson’s employer and the private provider of healthcare services at the unit.
The suit asserts that on June 11, 2012 after being seen by a CHM staff person and released as having no complications, Nicole Guerrero began to experience labor-like pain and symptoms. As the symptoms intensified, she was subsequently moved to a solitary confinement cell where her pleas and cries for assistance were repeatedly ignored. In the end, Guerrero delivered in the solitary confinement cell where her baby was found to be unresponsive and later pronounced dead. Overall, Guerrero claims that
“"Wichita County denied (her) access to reasonable medical care ... ignored her obvious signs of labor and constant requests for medical assistance, failed to conduct a physical examination ... when she began to display obvious signs of labor, left (her) unattended in a solitary cell while she was obviously in labor, failed to transport (her) to the hospital for safe delivery, which ultimately caused (her) to deliver her baby alone in the solitary cell, and resulted in (her) suffering severe and likely permanent, physical and psychological injuries."[i]
This case surfaces as yet another salient example of the failure of private, for-profit corporations to provide adequate services to individuals under their care in correctional facilities. More importantly, this example speaks to the grave repercussions of private corporations’ investment and swift transition into aspects of the corrections industry aside from the ownership and management of correctional facilities and incarcerated populations, such as correctional health and mental health careAs it stands, private subcontracts are responsible for the medical and mental healthcare at number of state prisons and jails across the country.
In addition, situations such as these beg to question the connection between cases such as Guerrero’s, the deaths of women and a newborn at the now-shuttered Dawson State Jail, GEO Group’s denial of medical care to 7-year-old Nayely Beltran for her brain tumor at the Karnes County immigrant family detention center, and the growing detention of mothers, children, and families in immigration facilities.
While everyone incarcerated in for-profit, private correctional facilities is vulnerable to the abuses and neglect that is endemic to the private prison industry and their respective “services”, women, children, and families when under the jurisdiction of these institutions are particularly vulnerable to the fatal consequences of their profit-driven negligence and power. Until these corporations are held accountable and subject to open records laws and the regulations of the Freedom of Information Act, these atrocities are likely to continue
[i] Erdman, Shelby Lin, and Kevin Conlon. "Texas Woman Claims She Gave Birth Alone in Jail, Baby Died." CNN. Cable News Network, 24 May 2014. Web. 24 Sept. 2014.