By: Barbara Hart, Principal in G&E’s Civil Rights Practice

 Pregnancy Justice has filed a lawsuit against an Alabama jail alleging mistreatment of a pregnant detainee which put mother and baby at serious risk. The advocacy group further exposes years of neglect and civil rights violations at the facility.

In a new civil rights lawsuit filed by advocacy group Pregnancy Justice fights for an Alabama inmate who gave birth in jail after being denied medical help. Reported by PBS, the suit raises concerns over the mistreatment of pregnant inmates at Etowah County Detention Center, putting new mothers and their innocent children at risk.

The lawsuit claims that the inmate, who was arrested at two months pregnant in 2021, was denied consistent access to prenatal care and was repeatedly denied medical treatment. She was allegedly forced to sleep on a concrete floor with only a thin mat to lay upon during her pregnancy. And after 12 hours of labor, she was only given Tylenol for pain before giving birth in a jail shower, the suit says. She had also suffered a placental abruption and passed out on the shower floor after giving birth, bleeding significantly.  Dana Sussman, Deputy Executive Director of Pregnancy Justice says that after giving birth, jail officials took the baby and proceeded to take pictures with the baby while the unconscious mother laid there, undressed.

The lawsuit seeks justice for the harmful treatment inflicted on the inmate and the trauma she endured. Pregnancy Justice notes they have identified three other pregnant women who were similarly mistreated in the facility in three years prior to this plaintiff’s labor. One of the women tragically lost her baby after her water broke. She was not transported to the hospital for five days, where she delivered a stillborn.

Inmate mistreatment at the jail isn’t limited to just pregnant women, Pregnancy Justice expands. For years, patterns of neglect and rights violations have surfaced, including lack of mental health services and treatment as well as lack of medications that inmates are prescribed.

While potential compensation from this lawsuit will not erase the pain and trauma endured, Pregnancy Justice hopes to spotlight the inhumane human rights violations that have infiltrated the Etowah County facility—and encourage change.

Rights of Inmates in Jail and Denial of Medical Care

The Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to individuals who have been convicted of a crime, including freedom from cruel and unusual punishment with concern to their conditions. Throughout the duration of a prisoner’s incarceration, it is the correctional facility’s duty to provide adequate medical care. This duty begins upon a prisoner’s admission.

Generally, if medical treatment is necessary, it cannot be denied to an inmate. If prisoners do not have sufficient access to medical care, inmates or their families may benefit from discussing their circumstances with a civil rights attorney.

If You or a Loved One Were Mistreated in Jail, or Denied Medical Care, We May be Able to Help

Depending on the circumstances, prisoners or their family members may be able to file lawsuits for rights violations. If you or a loved one suffered harm due to violations of your rights, reach out to a Grant & Eisenhofer civil rights lawyer to determine whether you can file a lawsuit. Our civil rights attorneys can help investigate your claim and may be able to help you seek compensation for your damages. Call (855) 244-2031 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation.