Pregnancy Justice, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Etowah County, Alabama, officials on behalf of Ashley Caswell, whose constitutional rights were violated when she was forced to labor unassisted for nearly 12 hours, delivering her baby in a jail shower — almost losing her life.
Staff at the Etowah County Detention Center first restricted Ms. Caswell’s access to necessary medical care during her high-risk pregnancy and then ignored her pleas for help when her water broke. Ms. Caswell suffered excruciating pain, only receiving Tylenol, and experienced a life-threatening placental abruption.
After the delivery, Ms. Caswell handed her newborn to staff before passing out on the shower floor. Instead of helping, staff took pictures with her newborn without her consent, despite the fact that the baby was still attached to her body via the umbilical cord.
The jail’s actions were cruel, degrading, and inhuman. They showed deliberate indifference to Ms. Caswell’s medical needs, in violation of her constitutional rights.
This lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages for Ms. Caswell, but her experience wasn’t an isolated incident. It was part of a disturbing and long-standing pattern of abuse at the jail.