Things That Matter

This Woman Was Forced To Give Birth In A Jail Cell Without Medical Attention, Now She’s Suing

@CBSDenver / Twitter

On the topic of imprisonment and the people behind bars, oftentimes the most vulnerable group isn’t the most visible. It’s no secret that black and brown men are unjustifiably locked up, but minority women are as well. A 2014 report published by the Vera Institute of Justice and The Safety and Justice Challenge showed that minority women are being locked more than any other group, and many of them are mothers, and thousands of them are pregnant. How does the correctional facility handle these women? Appallingly. 

A 27-year-old woman gave birth alone while behind bars and received no medical care during her entire labor. 

Credit: Twitter/@cfcpac

Diana Sanchez was locked up at eight months pregnant on identity theft charges. The report by the Vera Institute shows that most women are jailed for nonviolent crimes, so it is unclear why they couldn’t help Sanchez as she was not a threat to anyone. On July 30, she was examined by a nurse who in turn told her “that she needed to receive immediate medical attention if she ‘started having contractions if she had noticed any fluid leaking from her vagina,'” USA Today reports. 

For the next several hours Sanchez pleaded for help. She called on anyone that could hear her that she was having contractions, but no one ever came. 

Credit: Unsplash

According to the New York Times, at least one person did come to her door. The video footage shows that someone slid a white mat under Sanchez’s cell door. How would a mat help during this process? Minutes later, her baby was born. He was born at a little over five pounds. Medical personal did attend to the baby after he was born. Her due date was still more than a week away. Yes, this is cruel but is it illegal for prison officials to not provide medical attention to someone who is in desperate need of help, let alone to someone who is in labor?  

An attorney for Sanchez said it is illegal for prison officials to turn their back on a pregnant woman in labor, and that is why they’re filing a lawsuit. 

Credit: Unsplash

“What should have been one of the happiest days of her life was instead a day of unnecessary terror, pain, and humiliation,” the lawsuit said. Sanchez is suing the city and county of Denver, Denver Health and Hospital Authority, and six individuals — two nurses and four sheriff’s deputies. 

Her lawyer, Mari Newman, said her client is traumatized over what happened to her in jail. If some women experience postpartum depression after they give birth, just imagine the pain that Sanchez must be under after experiencing such trauma. 

“Diana is struggling,” Newman said in an interview with the New York Times. “She continues to flash back to the event. She was absolutely petrified, and nobody would do anything to give her the medical care that she so obviously needed. This is the kind of trauma that doesn’t go away.”

In response to this lawsuit, the Denver Sheriff Department released this statement to the New York Times, “To make sure nothing like this happens again, the Denver Sheriff Department has changed its policies to ensure that pregnant inmates who are in any stage of labor are now transported immediately to the hospital.”

They also report that after an internal investigation, their employees acted in accordance with their policy. In other words, not helping a woman who is behind bars and is in labor is proper protocol. Sanchez has since been released and is at home recovering with her baby boy. 

More than 12,000 pregnant women are put behind bars every year, the American Civil Liberties Union reports. Some of them are forced to have their babies while being shackled to their bed. 

Credit: Unsplash 

“I felt like a farm animal,” Michelle Aldana said of her experience giving birth while in prison and chained to her hospital bed. 

Each state has different laws that either requires women to be shackled en route to the hospital or while giving birth but this there is no hard law across the board, which gives way for major liberties when it comes to pregnant women in jails. 

Democratic lawmakers have tried to pass the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act which would allow prison officials to remove the women’s cuff and chains while giving birth, but only some states have agreed to this policy. 

Furthermore, researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine say that more than 90 percent of women who have their babies in jail ended in live births with no maternal deaths. But what about the 10 percent? We must look at what is causing those children to die.

READ: Cyntoia Brown Was Finally Released From Prison After 15 Years – This Is What Resistance Looks Like

Pregnant Asylum-Seeker With Contractions Sent Back to Mexico to Live in a Tent

Things That Matter

Pregnant Asylum-Seeker With Contractions Sent Back to Mexico to Live in a Tent

You’re in El Salvador. You just found out you’re pregnant with your second child, in a country growing more and more dangerous. The decision is obvious. You take your 3-year-old daughter and make the treacherous journey from El Salvador to the United States, all the while, growing more and more pregnant. After a long journey, you finally arrive at the border to stake your family’s claim for asylum, and, all of a sudden, you start to experience contractions. Just in time, right?

For the anonymous woman whose story this belongs to, timing is everything, but is seemingly meaningless in her case for asylum. U.S. Border Patrol simply gave her medication to stop the contractions and sent her to wait for her hearing, scheduled on November 14, in a tent city, under a bridge in Matamoros, Mexico.

The Salvadoreña likely expected to receive ongoing medical attention, but has since been living in a tent.

@7News / Twitter

At eight-and-a-half-months pregnant, the Salvadoran woman crossed the Rio Grande with her 3-year-old daughter. Agents took her to a the Valley Regional Medical Center, a U.S. hospital, to receive the medical attention she needed. There, she was given medicine to stop the contractions, and was immediately sent back to Matamoros, Mexico to live in a “makeshift tent camp,” according to AP.

Due to give birth any day now, she’s worried she’ll give birth in the street.

@NBCChicago / Twitter

Her lawyer, Jodi Goodwin, told ABC News, “She’s concerned about having the baby in the street or having to have the baby in a shelter.” The Salvadoran mother, who requests to remain anonymous, is scheduled for her asylum hearing on November 14. That also means that she will likely have to care for a newborn infant while living in a tent.

The tent cities in Mexico aren’t any better than the concentration camps in the U.S. Access to meals, clean water and medical care are unreliable. Pregnant woman are especially vulnerable.

Meanwhile, Trump has boasted of his “Remain in Mexico” program as “winning” for the U.S.

The White House / YouTube

After The Washington Post voiced criticism over Trump’s “Summer of Losses,” his campaign immediately pushed out a video claiming a “Summer of Winning” for the administration. The Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the “Remain in Mexico”, program is considered a win for Trump and a humanitarian crisis for much of the world.

After Trump threatened Mexico with outrageous tariffs, Mexico agreed to the deal, allowing the U.S. to outsource its responsibility toward asylum-seekers to Mexico. Now, asylum seekers are turned away at the border and forced to live in tent cities while they await their court date. Effectively, it prohibits asylum seekers from building a life for themselves, or from having adequate access to housing while they await their court dates.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has exempted “vulnerable populations” from the new policy.

@mollyf / Twitter

But U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is unclear on whether pregnant women fall into that category. In a statement, CBP said, “In some cases, pregnancy may not be observable or disclosed, and may not in and of itself disqualify an individual from being amenable for the program. Agents and officers would consider pregnancy, when other associated factors exist, to determine amenability for the program.”

CBP seems to suggest that they’re off the hook if they can’t ‘obviously’ tell if the woman is pregnant.

@ajplus / Twitter

“In this particular case, this woman was actually taken to the hospital by CBP,” Goodwin told the Associated Press. “There’s no way that CBP could suggest that her pregnancy wasn’t known.” This woman isn’t even the first pregnant woman the U.S. has turned back to Mexico. She is at least the seventh pregnant woman to be turned away since the policy was enacted this summer.

These women are afraid that if their children become Mexican nationals, it would hurt their asylum case.

@photosbylesko / Twitter

On top of that, they are not being provided any services. According to Lina Villa, a Mexican official for Doctors Without Borders, nobody is informing the women of their rights to see a doctor for pre-natal check ups. Mexico offers free, limited health coverage to anyone who asks. The women don’t know they’re allowed to ask. They don’t even know where to go when the time comes to give birth.

For the Trump administration, this is what “winning” looks like.

A New Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Takes A Direct Bite At Republicans And Our Government’s Messy Criminal Justice System

Entertainment

A New Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Takes A Direct Bite At Republicans And Our Government’s Messy Criminal Justice System

@benandjerrys / Twitter

There’s no doubt that the United States criminal justice system is broken. It’s proven to be racist and geared towards punishing rather than reforming. Brown and Black communities more than any other are often victims of this biased institution. Unfair sentencing and the school to prison industrial system keep mariginalized communities at the prison system’s mercy. To put it simply, the criminal justice system needs to be reformed. With this in mind, multiple organizations dedicate themselves to fixing this broken system.

However, the newest company to get involved with criminal justice reform is better known for their tasty treats.

Recently, ice cream giants Ben & Jerry’s announced their newest flavor and it’s inspired by this much-needed call for reform.

Twitter / @benandjerrys

Named “Justice ReMix’d,” the new ice cream is being touted by the company as “a sweet swirl of justice under the lid.” The new flavor features cinnamon and chocolate ice cream with gobs of cinnamon bun dough and spicy fudge brownies in the mix. According to Ben & Jerry’s, the new flavor was created as part of an effort to support social change.

“Our approach to creating social change is to raise up the work non-profits are doing on the ground,” shared Ben & Jerry’s Co-Founder Ben Cohen. “We bring every resource we have to support them—our business voice, our connection with fans, our Scoop Shop community and of course, ice cream.”

Proceeds will go to the Advancement Project National Office, a national, multi-racial civil rights organization working to end systemic racism. The organization also works towards accessible education, immigrant justice, and voting rights.

The new, limited batch flavor was unveiled at a launch party in Washington, DC.

Twitter / @benandjerrys

Founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were there for the unveiling party as were members of Advancement Project National Office and criminal justice activists. Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of Advancement Project, also attended the DC party,

“We work with communities across the country that are trying to change the systems of oppression,” Dianis shared at the new flavor’s unveiling. “We need a remix.”

This isn’t the first time Ben & Jerry’s has used their ice cream to bring light to an important cause.

Twitter / @benandjerrys

Over its long history, the ice cream company has launched other flavors with important activist agendas. 2015’s “Save Our Swirled” was released to bring awareness to the threat of climate change. During the same year, Ben & Jerry’s launched its “I Dough, I Dough” to support the Human Rights Campaign and marriage equality.

In 2016, the company released “Empower Mint” to commemorate the anniversary of the historic Brown vs. Board of Education ruling. “Home Sweet Honeycomb” was launched in 2017 to support the International Rescue Committee to help refugees relocating to Europe. That same year, “One Sweet World” was released to honor the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign.

Fans of Ben & Jerry’s were supportive of the ice cream company’s attempt to take on this important social issue.

Twitter / @NerdGirlPink

We love a company that prioritizes the social issues that impact our lives. Not many companies prioritize disenfranchised people over their bottom line. When a company supports those impacted by the unfairness of the social and criminal justice systems, we have to take notice. Plus, this ice cream just looks really yummy.

The new flavor is available now at local stores and scoop shops or you can search here for availability near you.