Things That Matter

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

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

The Internet Wants To Know How A Prisoner Got A Popeyes Sandwich And Posted It To His IG Story

Culture

The Internet Wants To Know How A Prisoner Got A Popeyes Sandwich And Posted It To His IG Story

@eugene3005 / Twitter

Context is often everything when it comes to social media, but users have so many questions about how a Popeyes chicken sandwich landed behind bars into the hands of a “lucky” prisoner. The Popeyes Chicken Sandwich has taken the nation by storm, selling out at nearly every Popeyes. Some have made half a dozen visits to the fried chicken chain before being able to sample the elusive sandwich. This is the collective mood Twitter user FBG Eugene (@Eugne3005) was in when he was looking through his Instagram stories. Then, he sees his friend, Frank Gutta, post himself eating a Popeyes sandwich from his cot in jail, and he’s about had it. “N***** in jail ate the Popeyes chicken sandwich before me IM SICK,” Gutta tweets in joking anger, along with the visual proof.

Now, another collective meltdown over this sandwich is underway as people try to understand how Gutta even got the sandwich delivered to his prison cell, or posted it to social media, for that matter.

Before Frank Gutta sinks his teeth into the sandwich, he poses for a quick photo.

CREDIT: @EUGENE3005 / TWITTER

“Trying to see what all the hype bout,” Frank Gutta captions the photo on his Instagram story. What’s more, it seems like Gutta has a second sandwich sitting beside him. “I’m dead af,” comments one Twitter user. Someone else tries to comfort Gutta’s friend, Eugene, who presumably is not in jail, saying “don’t get your spirits crushed homie! the man’s eating a soggy sandwich meaning that ain’t no regular popeyes chicken sandwich right there is a Popeyes Booty chicken sandwich or a Popeyes C****** chicken sandwich! either way you still have a chance for the original!”

Others wondered out loud if that cot is a prison cot or a dorm cot. “This look like some college freshman dorms. Whachu mean?” asks @KhariSafari. “Jail/college same thing” replies @___Yashiro. Khari Safari agrees, “except you owe more money after one of them.”

Gutta posts one more photo to his story to anonymously credit his “bae.”

CREDIT: @EUGENE3005 / TWITTER

Looks like Gutta is on to his second sandwich, and remembers to offer a “thanks bae.” More outrage. “He didn’t even tag or say shorty’s name 😅He belongs to the streets,” tweets one Carmen (@3ntr0_P). What lengths did “bae” go to to ensure Gutta got his chicken sandwich? First, she had to overcome the hurdle that every other sandwich-seeking-American has to go through to just obtain the sold-out sandwich. Then… how did she get it in? “Wait… don’t that mean she put it in her cooc- nvm,” asked Sweet Don (@itsbbydon).

Some people couldn’t accept that the receiver of the holy fried chicken sandwich could be so cruel. “Or maybe she’s a guard and he’s tryna protect her job and his connection to the outside world,” offers Ashley Wilson (@anwxo). It’s a far more pragmatic explanation than it is a romantic one, but that explanation “makes a lot of sense… it’s all adding up” for Carmen. 

The conspiracy theories are in: “bruh gotta be busting down a female guard.”

Credit: @6e_Drt / Twitter

Light Yagami’s (@YvngLxnk) theory that “bruh gotta be busting down a female guard” is the most liked opinion on the matter. “They allow workers to bring in food at a prison, it just has to either be sealed or able to be opened to get checked for drugs/cellphones & other stuff. We damn sure didn’t eat chow hall food,” offered @TheNappyAfreaux based off her personal experience.

Humble-braggers are now flocking to the thread to glorify their victory.

CREDIT: @NEWROUGESTON / Twitter

“I just got my 1st and 2nd taste of glory yesterday after 5 unsuccessful tries over the past few months. Added ketchup & cheese on them muff****kas,” tweeted The Wasted Talent (@NewRougeSton). Others are just dropping photos of the coveted sandwich in the thread with no caption and no likes. 

With nearly 64k likes and 22k retweets at the time of publication, the Internet is also wondering how Gutta was able to post the cultural phenomenon to social media from his cot. “Not only that … bro posted on his IG story,” tweets El Padrino (@ImGooooood). Other users are like “F*** it, he’s already in jail.” “People in jail still deserve some level of humanity. Glad bro got to try something that’s still next to impossible to get lol,” a @KhaptainKhan tweeted.

READ: A Fight Turned Fatal After Two Men Got Into An Argument Over A Popeyes Chicken Sandwich

A Man Was Convicted Of A Crime He Didn’t Commit And 11 Years Later He Was Finally Exonerated

Things That Matter

A Man Was Convicted Of A Crime He Didn’t Commit And 11 Years Later He Was Finally Exonerated

@LADAOffice / Twitter

In 2008, Ruben Martinez Jr. was sentenced to 47 years and eight months in prison for crimes he never committed. Nearly 13 years after his arrest, Martinez walked out of the Los Angeles Superior Court a free man, exonerated from his wrongful conviction. “I did not do this time by myself,” Martinez said on the court steps. “My family did time. My wife did time with me, did the 11 years with me. I couldn’t do it on my own, by my own strength. It was God’s strength that got me through this.” His wife, Maria Martinez, a secretary for the sheriff’s department, appealed the conviction five times only to be rejected each time.

Ruben may have never experienced freedom if Maria didn’t pull some strings to convince prosecutors to look at his case, a sobering detail for innocent inmates without connections.

Ruben and Maria were all smiles as their unjust chapter came to a close.

Credit: @LADAOffice / Twitter

“All my husband wanted was for the truth to be revealed. Well, the truth has been revealed, and he’s a free man,” Maria Martinez said. Ruben had never wavered in his innocence and even turned down a plea deal that would have given him a two and a half year prison sentence. “I am sorry for this injustice and I am so happy that you did not give up on us and allowed us to share this moment,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey, pictured in the blazer, told the Martinez family. 

“Mr. Martinez and his wife proved to be unstoppable in their pursuit of his freedom,” DA Lacey told reporters. “Throughout this terrible experience, the two were never deterred by setbacks and instead demonstrated remarkable strength and dignity through what I imagine must have been a dark time in their lives.”

Ruben Martinez Jr. was convicted, even though he was working when the crimes were committed.

Credit: @oborraez / Twitter

All it took was one witness to identify Ruben as the armed robber who held up the same auto body shop five times. During the 2005 to 2007 sprees, Ruben was employed at a temporary employment agency and has proof that he was working during two of the robberies. In fact, Ruben had to endure two trials that failed to prove his innocence. The first trial ended as a mistrial after the jury was deadlocked. During the second trial, two key witnesses to his innocence were not called by either the defense or the prosecution. He was convicted and sentenced to 47 years and eight months in prison on nine counts of armed robbery.

But Maria was relentless in proving his innocence.

Credit: @LADAOffice / Twitter

After five rejected appeals, Maria leaned on close family friend and retired homicide detective, Catherine Wills. Wills and her husband were so close with the Martinez’s that Wills’s husband walked Maria down the aisle and gave her hand to Ruben. Wills and Maria compiled six months of research into a binder to give to DA Lacey. Wills’ credibility and persistence went a long way. “I told them, ‘Look, I’m 82 years old now, and I’m not going to die until Ruben Martinez is out of prison,'” Wills reportedly said.

In 2015, DA Lacey’s office created a unit dedicated to reviewing wrongful conviction claims, but Ruben’s case is only the third case supported in four years. Still, it was DA Lacey’s unit that “painstakingly tracked down witnesses and uncovered employment records and pay stubs that confirmed that Mr. Martinez could not have committed two of the crimes that were clearly the work of the same serial robber,” CNN reports Lacey to have said.

Ruben says that he has “no grudges.”

Credit: @LADAOffice / Twitter

Ruben is the first person that DA Lacey exonerated without any legal representation. “Although the vast majority of convictions are correctly upheld, I knew that, at times, the pursuit of justice, which depends on human beings, is not perfect,” Lacey told reporters. “And Mr. Martinez’s case serves as a stark reminder to all of us: Despite our best efforts, we don’t always get it right.”

“The Lord Jesus Christ is a part of my life, and there’s no grudges.” Ruben told the crowd. “People are human people do make mistakes. But what touches me is when the DA got behind me and stamped me … and proved me innocent — so what grudge?” What’s next for Ruben? Right now, he’s just excited to get his driver’s license and get a job.

READ: Eight New Witnesses Implicate Stites’ Fiancé, A Former Cop, Pointing To Rodney Reed’s Innocence