Target: Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm
Goal: Investigate the staff and leadership of a Wisconsin county jail for allegations of severe neglect that resulted in the death of a newborn infant.
Imagine begging a guard for medical attention after going into labor, only to be laughed at and ignored by the guards. Imagine that you have to go through the pain and terror of having a baby alone, in a jail cell, without the aid of painkillers or a medical professional. According to Shadé Swayzer, a former inmate at the Milwaukee County Jail, these are the events that led up to the death of her newborn.
She claims that the guards did not check on her until six hours after she gave birth and that her baby lived long enough for her to breastfeed the baby. In July the baby was autopsied, but the results have not yet been made available to the public. This lack of transparency makes it seem like the report contained something incriminating.
The Milwaukee County Sherriff’s office is denying these allegations. They claim that the woman never alerted anyone to the fact that she was going into labor. The jail is supervised by a vocal Donald Trump supporter, Sheriff David Clarke, who is vying for a position in the president-elect’s cabinet. Perhaps Clarke’s ardent support of such a misogynistic figure is why he feels that the story of a woman giving birth without attracting the attention of a single guard or wanting some kind of medical attention is plausible.
This is not the first questionable incident that has taken place at this jail; In April, a man was found dead in his cell from severe dehydration after the water from his cell was allegedly cut off. The death was ruled a homicide by the Milwaukee County medical examiner.
The Huffington Post has been keeping track of prison deaths since the death of Sandra Bland. They have counted 816 deaths in the year after Bland’s death. These people may have been incarcerated, but this does not mean they don’t have the same right to justice. Investigating questionable deaths of inmates is essential to maintaining a healthy justice system, especially when an innocent child is counted among the dead.
The Milwaukee County jail staff and leadership must be held accountable for their actions. Sign this petition to call for this jail to be investigated for criminal negligence.
Dear District Attorney Chisholm,
Just months after a man was found dead from dehydration in a jail cell, a woman’s newborn child died after the staff allegedly laughed off the woman’s plea for medical care after going into labor. An innocent child, that should have been protected, is now dead because of this jail’s alleged neglect.
The Milwaukee County Sherriff’s office is denying these allegations. They claim that the woman never alerted anyone that she was going into labor. It is hard to believe that a woman quietly gave birth, alone in a cell, without any painkillers. It is difficult to understand how anything but criminal negligence by prison staff could have led to this woman giving birth unnoticed.
Not long ago, a man was found in his cell after dying from dehydration in this same County jail. Allegedly, he had the water cut off to his cell and the guards denied him water. This incident not only points to negligence, but a willful intent.
Prisoners are given a sentence to pay for a crime. It is not for the prison staff to add to that sentence by denying inmates their basic human rights. Demand justice for this innocent newborn baby, and investigate this prison staff and leadership for criminal negligence.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Barnellbe