An Androscoggin County woman who gave birth last year while an inmate at the Cumberland County Jail has sued the sheriff, the jail administrator and corrections officers claiming they violated the law by having officers in the hospital delivery room with her.
Jaden Brown, 30, is seeking unspecified damages and an order that corrections officers be properly trained in dealing with pregnant prisoners.
In addition to violating Maine law, Brown alleges that her constitutional right to privacy was violated when corrections officers were in the labor and delivery room on Feb. 11, 2019, when she gave birth at Maine Medical Center.
Brown claims she suffered anxiety, embarrassment, shame and degradation as a result. She filed the lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Portland.
Brown also claims that corrections officers illegally handcuffed her two months before her baby was born. The reason for using handcuffs should have been reported to supervisors but was not, the lawsuit claims. An officer was suspended without pay for one day as a result.
Brown, whose town of residence is not included in the lawsuit, named
Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce, jail administrator Maj. Timothy Kortes, and corrections officers Mark Renna, Sam Dickey, Brady and Haskell as defendants in the lawsuit. The first names of Brady, a female officer, and Haskell were not included in the complaint.
Haskell, Dickey and Brady were all present in the delivery room when Brown gave birth, the lawsuit says.
Joyce declined Tuesday to comment on the lawsuit. It is the county’s policy not to comment on pending litigation.
In 2015, the Maine Legislature passed a law that says: “a corrections officer may not be present in the room during labor or childbirth unless specifically requested by medical personnel. If a corrections officer’s presence is requested by medical personnel, the corrections officer must be female if practicable.”
Staff at Maine Medical Center in Portland, where Brown gave birth, did not request the deputies presence and Brown did not give them permission to be in the room with her, the lawsuit says. Brown is being represented by Portland attorney Sarah Churchill.
The same law that bans corrections officers from being with inmates in labor and delivery rooms includes a prohibition on handcuffing pregnant inmates except in extraordinary circumstances.
Brown turned herself in at the Cumberland County Jail after she learned a warrant had been issued for her arrest for a probation violation. She admitted the violation and was sentenced to 15 months at the jail.
On Dec. 29, 2018, Brown was moved from the jail’s pre-release center back to the main building after she reported other inmates for drug use, the lawsuit says. Officers knew she was pregnant but handcuffed her as they walked her across a parking lot that separates the two buildings, the complaint alleges.
When went into labor two months later, she was taken to Maine Medical Center. Her family was not allowed to be with her, the lawsuit says.
“Defendants Brady and Dickey both saw [Brown’s] and her child’s naked and exposed bodies,” the complaint says. “During her labor corrections officers from the jail were freely coming and going from [her] room using their cell phones, joking that [Brown] should name her child after the jail and drinking coffee.”
Joyce admitted that jail personnel violated the jail policy and the law, the complaint says.