Shannon Guess Richardson
I was arrested on June 7, 2013. I was 20 weeks pregnant. I was placed in general population in Titus County (Texas) where I never had a strike against me. On June 12, 2013, I was taken to the hospital for contractions. I have a history of premature deliveries, but thankfully I received medical attention in time and this was avoided.
On June 21, 2013, I was transferred to Gregg County (Texas). By the time I got there, I was in pain and spotting. I informed the person at intake that I was a high-risk pregnancy, had just been in the hospital, and was now bleeding and in pain. I was placed in a holding cell with "detox" on the door. The cell had vomit on the toilet, sink, floor, and wall. There was also feces and urine surrounding the toilet, sink, and wall. I was instructed to sit on the floor. When I asked the guard for water, I was told there was a sink in the cell. With tears in my eyes and my stomach churning from the sight of human waste surrounding me, I told the guard it wasn't sanitary. The guard simply shrugged and walked away.
A few hours later, a guard forced me to carry my mat and issued property on my own, despite my complaint of bleeding and pain. She said I should drag it because she wasn't carrying my "shit" for me.
I was then placed in a segregation cell. The cell was contaminated with blood, urine, and feces. Open piles of trash surrounded me. When I again asked for water, I was once again told I had a sink in my cell. The guard instructed me to use the sink and toilet combo for drinking water - the one that was covered in human waste. Anyone in their right mind would understand this was a hazard to my baby and me.
Once I was in my cell, I was given pads for my bleeding while the guards spoke publicly about my case and laughed at me.
The next day, I was given a TB test. A nurse instructed me to place my arm through the food hole in the door - not the most sanitary way of doing things, but considering the fact I was surrounded by human waste and trash, it didn't seem like a big deal at the time. I knelt down to the hole in the door and begged the nurse for help. She told me to "fill out a form", and closed the slot in my face.
I filled out forms requesting medical care and attention, still complaining to each and every guard about my increasing bleeding and pain. I even showed them my bloody pads for proof of my bleeding. I continued to be laughed at and more pads were literally thrown through the slot in the door.
After six days of complaining about bleeding, hurting, and a fever, my water broke. It took several hours to be moved to the hospital. I
(2) was told I had an infection (not surprising considering my living conditions) that caused my water to break, which could have easily been treated had I received medical care when I first reported the bleeding and pain.
I lay chained and shackled to a hospital bed with two guards staring at me day and night for a week. My infection continued to get worse and they were having a hard time keeping my contractions away. At the end of the week, my baby's heart rate started going down dangerously low with each contraction. At one point, my contractions were so bad, I could barely breathe through the pain. Apparently, I was holding my breath through one (not on purpose, but anyone who has had a baby, or who has had a sudden burst of pain knows that it knocks the breath right out of you). I suddenly had a guard screaming in my face! The guard said I was pushing because my face was red! I tried to explain that I simply hurt and it was hard to breathe, but I was crying too hard at that point. I was all alone and feeling afraid, hopeless, and I was terrified my baby was going to die.
My son was born via C-section on July 4, 2013. I woke up chained and shackled to a bed - without my baby. No one would tell me if he was even alive until later that night. They let me go several hours believing my baby had died.
On July 8, the marshal and a Gregg County guard took me from the hospital - without ever allowing me to see my baby. I was crying uncontrollably. The marshal screamed at me for crying.
I was then placed in a small metal cage that only took up half of the back of a van; it was a dog kennel for humans, only smaller. I am five foot nine inches tall, so I had to sit with my knees twisted to the side with my back hunched over. I was forced to ride this way for three hours without a break - after having my stomach cut open only four days before. When I arrived at the next institution, large needles had to be inserted into my incision to draw out the blood clots the trip had caused.
After all of this, I was served papers informing me that my ex-husband did not want our son and he had already been adopted. Of course I didn't get a choice in the matter; after all, what am I besides a number.
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