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ACLU Files Lawsuit After Woman Shackled During Labor

The second lawsuit in six months involving a woman in labor being shackled and driven hundreds of miles has been filed in Missouri. (Jackson County)
The second lawsuit in six months involving a woman in labor being shackled and driven hundreds of miles has been filed in Missouri. (Jackson County)
April 19, 2016

MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, Mo. - The ACLU of Missouri has filed suit on behalf of an inmate who lost her baby. In December 2014, Tara Rhodes told jail staff at the Mississippi County jail that she was having labor pains and losing fluids.

She says she was accused of lying and ignored.

Five days later when she could no longer walk, she was dragged across the floor on a mat, shackled on the wrists, ankles and across the abdomen, and driven 243 miles to another correctional center.

From there she was taken to a hospital and gave birth to a stillborn baby.

ACLU legal director Tony Rothert of Missouri says it's the second case like this they've taken to court in Missouri in the last six months.

"The indifference shown to the medical needs of people in jail across the state and across the country is epidemic," says Rothert. "No matter what you've done, no matter what crime you've committed, no one deserves to go through this kind of torture."

The ACLU sued Mississippi County and seven correctional officers for the death of Rhode's baby.

Late last year another woman filed suit against Jackson County after she was shackled, chained and transported nearly 200 miles while in active labor.

Rothert calls the treatment of these women cruel and unusual.

"Any person on the street would realize that's someone in need of medical care and certainly would hope that someone at that jail would have called for help," he says.

This month several jailers walked off the job in Mississippi County and left sheriff's deputies to guard the inmates.

Rothert says that and the fact that the ACLU has to repeatedly take action against jails and prisons across the state is proof that there's a serious problem in Missouri.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MO