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Woman Who Gave Birth On Jail Cell Floor Sues Macomb County

July 25, 2018 - 12:37 pm
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MOUNT CLEMENS (WWJ/AP) - A metro Detroit woman who says she was forced to give birth in jail two years ago is suing over allegations her civil rights were violated.

Jessica Preston filed a federal lawsuit this month alleging Macomb County Jail staff ignored her when she went into labor while being held for driving on a suspended license in 2016. Preston says she gave birth while behind bars in Mount Clemens after repeated attempts to tell jail staff of her high-risk pregnancy and requests to go to the hospital.

The baby ended up being delivered on a mattress placed on the floor of the jail’s infirmary cell, without a doctor present.

“They told me to knock my crap off, to stop lying to them, they could put another charge on me if I kept lying to them,” Preston, who was 27 years old at the time told CBS News. “I was scared; I was terrified... I was so worried for both of us that either one of us could catch something that would be life-threatening.”

The lawsuit alleges "deliberately indifferent actions and inactions" by several defendants, including correction officers, the county and Sheriff Anthony Wickersham.

Speaking to WWJ Newsradio 950's Charlie Langton last year, the sheriff said his staff evaluated Preston on several occasions before the birth, and “didn’t believe she was in labor.”

Why wasn't she taken to a hospital to be checked out?

“That’s always our plan, you know, is to make that happen,” Wickersham said. “But in this situation she was brought down, our medical staff was attending, and when they went back in the baby started to come. Safe delivery, baby was healthy.”

An attorney for Wickersham, who has insisted that jail staff did what was necessary, filed a motion last week seeking to dismiss Preston's claims against him.

“Again, do I like to have babies born in our jail? No,” Wickersham said. “But in these situations — as anybody out on the street, any husband and wife know — driving to the hospital, sometimes that baby comes out. They pull over, and I know our deputies have delivered babies on the side of the road.”

After delivering her child, Preston was sent back to jail where she spent five more days.

While she and her son Elijha are doing fine, Preston said she hopes her lawsuit prevents other babies from being born behind bars.

The Associated Press contribued to this report.