Silverdale jail faces federal lawsuit for shackling inmate while she gave birth
The Silverdale correctional facility is facing a federal lawsuit for shackling a pregnant inmate during labor. The woman is suing Silverdale and Hamilton County, saying the policy put her life and her baby's life at risk last year, when she gave birth while shackled to a hospital bed. She and her attorney say that was not only unconstitutional, but inhumane.
"It's dangerous to the woman," says attorney Chris Clem. "It's dangerous to the unborn child to keep a woman going through this process shackled to a bed."
Attorney Chris Clem represents former Silverdale inmate, Charity Flerl. He points to a similar case out of Nashville, where in 2009, inmate Juana Villegas sued the city and won after she was shackled while giving birth. At the time she said "I feared for my child. While I was there in the ambulance I didn't know if I could open my legs."
"The federal judge determined that he thought it was a clear violation of her rights. The jury was also pretty upset about it," says Clem.
Villegas was awarded $200,000 in damages. Clem says the exact same situation happened to his client at Silverdale.
"They did the exact same thing Nashville did. They shackled her at the jail, put her in an ambulance, shackled her the entire time. They had her feet shackled together, her hands, her waist."
Now Flerl is suing Silverdale and the company that runs it, Corrections Corporation of America. When reached for comment, a spokesperson replied, "While we are unable to speak to the specifics of this case, our dedicated, professional corrections staff is firmly committed to the health and safety of the inmates entrusted to our care."
Also named in the lawsuit is Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond.
"I was little bit surprised because we do not keep females in the Hamilton County jail. We do book them in here when they're brought in on warrants, but they're immediately transferred out to CCA where they're held," says Sheriff Hammond.
The lawsuit claims Hammond has "subcontracted" the care of inmates to CCA. But Hammond says CCA is private, and its contract is with Hamilton County government. County Attorney Rheuben Taylor did not want to comment on the case.
"The sheriff has absolutely nothing to do with the running of CCA," says Hammond.
Clem says it is under the same umbrella and the policy should go.
"Unless they have a reason to believe that shackling is necessary, then it's completely unnecessary," says Clem.
Sheriff Hammond says he has been in talks with County Attorney Rheuben Taylor about getting his name dropped from the lawsuit.
Count on Channel 3 to follow this case.