The press continues to cover the birth of Shakira Staten's daughter, who was delivered in her mother's jail cell. Apparently, one reason for the lack of response is that the prison blocks calls to 911 -- something even the warden didn't know about. Needless to say, that's a pretty stupid rule. Whatever happened to law enforcement agencies working together? What if there were a riot, or another emergency that required police assistance?
The Scranton Times Tribune has been on this story from the start. Yesterday, they issued a strongly worded editorial on the subject:
Prison birth simply disgrace
If there is anything as torturous as protracted labor, it is the pathetic explanation offered by Lackawanna County Commissioner A.J. Munchak and Lackawanna Prison officials for the recent birth of a baby in a prison cell.
Inmate Shakira Staten gave birth in a cell about four hours after informing staff that she was in labor.
“Medically, medical-wise and security-wise, everything was done properly,” Mr. Munchak declared Tuesday.
Oh, but an ambulance wasn’t called until after the baby was born. And the staff couldn’t contact the county 911 center.
“You cannot write a policy for each and every medical condition,” lamented Dr. Edward Zaloga, whose company contracts for medical care at the jail. “Medical knowledge changes almost on a daily basis. You’ve got to change, again, your written policy”
Well, here’s an enduring policy regarding pregnant inmates that won’t likely be upended by changing medical knowledge: when a female inmate goes into labor, take her to a hospital, where she and the baby belong.
The very timeline offered by prison officials challenges their own assertion that Ms. Staten received appropriate attention after requesting help. According to that timeline, she was taken to the prison medical unit at midnight but then returned to a cell with a camera, where they claimed she was monitored until the baby’s birth at about 4 a.m. Clearly, there was abundant time to transfer Ms. Staten to a hospital.
Ms. Staten’s lawyer, Nicholas Fick, disputed the prison’s description of her care: “It got to the point that she got on her hands and knees to keep the baby in,” Mr. Fick said. “It got to the point from there that she could feel the baby’s head. It was coming out. And she told them and the response was, ‘stay in the cell.’ ”
The accounts agree, however, that prison staff knew by midnight that Ms. Staten was in labor and she was not transported to a hospital until after the baby was born in a prison cell four hours later. Regardless of how Mr. Munchak tries to spin it, that is plain wrong.