Diana Sanchez gave birth to her son in the Denver County Jail alone, despite crying in pain for hours as she went through labor. A federal lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Colorado on Wednesday alleges that rather than “ensuring that Ms. Sanchez was able to give birth in a safe and sanitary medical setting,” the jail’s nurses and deputies “callously made her labor alone for hours,” forcing her to go through a “horrific experience.”
The jail’s surveillance video captured her giving birth to her son at 10:44 a.m. on July 31, 2018, alone without any medical supervision. Though she told the staff that she was having contractions, no one came to help her.
The lawsuit comes after an internal investigation conducted by the Denver Sheriff Department cleared the jail’s staff of any wrongdoing.
“That’s just emblematic of how broken the system really is,” Sanchez’s lawyer, Mari Newman, told The Washington Post. “They claim to have done a review and their conclusion is that nothing was wrong with the fact that a woman was never taken to the hospital and ended up giving birth in a dirty, cold, hard jail cell. It’s really unfathomable.”
A spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department told the Post, “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.”
Sanchez was booked into the Denver County Jail on July 14, 2018 after being charged with identity theft. At the time, Sanchez was just weeks away from her due date and, according to the lawsuit, the jail made note of that in her records.
On July 31, she left a message for the jail’s deputy that she was having contractions. She alleges she told the deputies and nurses “at least eight times that morning,” but they did not provide any medical assistance. The surveillance video shows Sanchez in her cell laboring alone.
She continued to labor and then alerted deputies that her water had broken and the baby was coming. Though a nurse requested a van to take her to the hospital, according to the lawsuit, the staff knew the van wouldn’t come until all new detainees were booked which could take hours.
She continued to yell for help but was told that she didn’t need any additional medical attention, according to the suit.
The video shows Sanchez having the baby over her bed in her cell. It’s not until she has the baby that someone comes in to examine the baby. Sanchez and her baby weren’t taken to the hospital until nearly 30 minutes after the baby was born.
Newman shared that with the lawsuit, her goal is to “achieve some measure of accountability and to force wrongdoing to change their behavior.”
When I’m not hanging out with my three-year-old and husband in Brooklyn, I’m busy writing stories for Mamas Uncut and managing PR + Marketing for Magnolia Bakery, based in New York City. On weekends, you can usually find me at a local park or playground pushing my daughter on the swings, “researching” the best almond croissants in Park Slope or launching into impromptu family dance parties at home, the sidewalk or, every once in awhile, a restaurant bathroom. I’m still trying to master the whole parenting thing, but I have learned that copious amounts of coffee, humor and humility are involved on a daily basis.
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