A Michigan woman says she was forced to give birth in jail on a dirty cell floor—an act that a local sheriff defends.
According to CBS News, Jessica Preston, who was 8 months pregnant at the time, was arrested last March and placed in jail for 14 days for driving on a suspended license. Unable to pay the $10K bond—Preston waited behind bars at the Macomb County Jail. During that time, she went into labor prematurely and was forced to give birth to her son Elijah on the floor because jail officials refused to take her to the hospital.
“They told me to knock my crap off, to stop lying to them, they could put another charge on me if I kept lying to them,” Preston says. “I should have gone (to the hospital) first thing in the morning, but when I come to you bleeding, 8 months pregnant, you go to the hospital.”
Surveillance video shows her going to the infirmary three times and being sent back to her cell. Five days later, Preston finally gave birth without a doctor present, CBS noted. Her baby weighed less than five pounds.
“I was scared,” Preston says. “I was terrified — I was so worried for both of us that either one of us could catch something that would be life-threatening.”
While the jail has come under fire for their treatment of Preston, Sheriff Tony Wickersham told CBS that he doesn’t believe his staff did anything wrong.
“I’m 100 percent that our people did what they need to do,” Wickersham says. “At some point, she said she had to go to the hospital, the baby came before that happened.”
He added: “That’s always our plan, you know, is to make that happen. But in this situation she was brought down, our medical staff was attending, and when they went back in the baby started to come. Safe delivery, baby was healthy.”
To add insult to injury, after Preston gave birth, she had to come back to the Macomb County Jail to finish serving her time.
Preston says “I know they said that they were holding me because I had prior warrants. Ok, you’re right, I did but what does that have to do with taking me to the hospital when I’m in labor.”
This isn’t the first time Macomb County Jail has been accused of ignoring the medical needs of its inmates: Officials are currently facing two federal lawsuits. In 2014 one inmate was found dead in his cell after going through withdrawal of methadone and in 2013 another inmate died in her cell from a severe bacterial infection.