Woman begins legal action after giving birth alone in prison cell
Diana Sanchez alleges her repeated shouts for help during five hours of labour were ignored by prison staff.
A woman who gave birth alone in her jail cell is suing US authorities after her pleas for help during five hours of labour were allegedly ignored.
Clips of silent surveillance video released by her lawyer show Diana Sanchez eventually lying down on a narrow bed in Denver County Jail, crying out in pain and then delivering a baby boy on July 31, 2018.
An absorbent pad is slid under her door for her to put on her bed about 45 minutes before she gave birth. Afterwards, a nurse walks into the cell and picks up the baby.
“To characterise it as medical care is a joke,” said Ms Sanchez’s lawyer Mari Newman.
Legal action filed on Wednesday alleges jail officials “cruelly chose convenience over compassion” by not calling for an ambulance after Ms Sanchez’s waters broke.
It says a van was requested to take Ms Sanchez, who was in a medical cell at the jail, to hospital. But it claims staff knew a van would not be available for several hours.
I didn't deserve that and especially not my baby Diana Sanchez
The action claims no nurse dried or warmed the baby or cleared mucus from his mouth for several minutes, and there was no equipment to cut the umbilical cord.
It was not severed until firefighters arrived about 15 minutes after the baby was born.
The Denver County Sheriff’s Department said it has since changed its policy to ensure pregnant inmates who are in any stage of labour are immediately taken to hospital.
Decisions about whether to move a pregnant inmate were previously left to jail nurses, but deputies are now authorised to call for an ambulance for someone in labour.
The jail’s nurses are hired from Denver Health, the city’s public hospital, and the sheriff’s department said Ms Sanchez was in a medical unit under the care of nurses at the time.
Denver Health declined to comment on the case but defended its work in the jail.
Spokesman Simon Crittle said “Denver Health provides high quality medical care to thousands of inmates every year.”
Ms Sanchez last year told Denver KDVR-TV, which first reported on the delivery, that the jail views inmates as “garbage”.
She added: “I know I was there because I was at fault for that I did wrong — and I didn’t deserve that and especially not my baby.”