LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - Pulaski County Jail conditions have come under fire from a mother who says she was ignored while going into labor, despite reassurances from the sheriff's department that its medical staff is well-trained.
Stephanie Hernandez, 18, was booked into the Pulaski County Detention Facility for two and a half weeks in July for a failure to appear charge.
During her brief stint in the jail, she alleges widespread neglect by the medical staff that includes instances of nurses failing to distribute meals, medication, and basic care.
Her complaints stem from July 22, when she says she was in labor for 25 hours before she was provided medical attention.
"They said they wouldn't do anything until there was blood on the floor, until the baby was ready to come," she said. "The baby was coming out and they finally called the doctor."
Her story was corroborated by a fellow inmate who requested anonymity.
"I asked the deputies to get help and they wouldn't because she wasn't bleeding or the baby wasn't coming out," said the female ex-inmate in an e-mail. "I was then ordered to leave."
Thirty minutes after Hernandez's daughter was crowning, she was able to give birth inside of an ambulance, according to her accounts.
Her now two-month-old daughter, Xiomara, was born healthy on July 22.
The Pulaski County Sheriff's Office stands by the training of its team of 23 nurses and emergency medical technicians. Every year the sheriff allocates $3 million toward the medical department, according to a sheriff's office spokesman.
"They're doing the best they can as far as taking care of the inmates and their needs," said Lt. Carl Minden. "There are steps that are supposed to be followed."
Minden said his department could not thoroughly address Hernandez's case because she did not file a formal complaint upon her release from jail on July 30.
Hernandez is considering legal action.
There are ten pregnant inmates inside the Pulaski County Jail and 132 total female inmates, according to the most recent inmate roster.
During Hernandez's time in Unit C, one of the units designated for females, she says witnessed another pregnant woman tackled by a guard.
"[They are treated] like animals," said Hernandez, shaking her head. "Just no respect. Nothing."
The Pulaski County Detention Facility houses 1,133 total inmates. Many of the inmates have not yet been convicted of a crime and are awaiting trial.
A social media page (http://www.facebook.com/UnitCPulaskiCountyAR) with personal anecdotes has been created by an anonymous ex-inmate seeking to raise awareness on alleged mistreatment at the jail.
"Several cops then grabbed [an inmate] violently and sprayed mace in her face numerous times and threw her in suicide cell number 101," reads one post.
For Stephanie Hernandez, she is more relieved than anything that her first daughter was born healthy, even though the situation wasn't perfect.
"It's not how I imagined it," said Hernandez. "I imagined having her with her dad in the room and my mom in there, but it makes her extra special."