FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A jail watchdog group is calling on Tarrant County Commissioners to investigate the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office after the jail temporarily lost certification and a woman, unbeknownst to corrections officers, gave birth in a jail cell.
The group New Sheriff Now Tarrant County issued a statement that said, in part:
“Yesterday’s news that the jail was decertified and then recertified without any notice to the public begs the question: Why is Bill Waybourn being given additional funding to run a voluntary 287(g) program, when he can’t even meet basic minimum requirements from the Texas Commission on Jail Standards?”
The statement went on to saw that, “The level of neglect and incompetence required for Sheriff Waybourn to allow a child to be born in his jail without any medical care is grounds for removal alone.”
The female inmate, whose name has not been released, was alone in a cell on May 17 when she delivered the baby. Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office said the woman, who had been in jail since January, didn’t “immediately disclose the birth, but the baby was soon discovered by a corrections officer.”
The baby was taken to Cook Children’s Hospital, but no information was given about it’s health or the condition of the mother.
Internal affairs is investigating the incident, but the spokesperson said there appears to be “no indication of misconduct at this time” by jailers.
The child was born a few days before state inspectors informed Tarrant County Jail staff that they were not meeting minimum standards for checking on some inmates. The incident that prompted the decertification was the suicide death of an inmate in late April.
Brandon Wood, the executive director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, confirmed that the jail was sent a notice of non-compliance on May 21 after inspectors found staff had failed to promptly do at least one face-to-face check required every 30 minutes for some inmates. He said the jail submitted a plan to correct the issue and was re-certified six days later.
Next week New Sheriff Now organizers say they will hold a demonstration during the commissioner’s court weekly meeting to demand transparency and an immediate, full investigation into the Sheriff’s Office.