Female inmates in Los Angeles County jails have waited weeks, even months, before receiving medical treatment that should have been provided within 24 hours of their requests for help, says a new outside monitor’s report quoted by the Los Angeles Times. Special Counsel Merrick Bobb also said that sheriff’s officials have inadequate written policies on how to treat sick or pregnant women housed in their jail facilities. A county hospital delivery nurse said “leg chains, which are heavy but long enough to allow the inmate to get to the bathroom, are often present during childbirth,” the report said.
Bobb recommended that “every woman who asks for medical attention or to see a nurse gets to do so within 24 hours of the request,” in compliance with national standards for jails and prisons set by the National Corrections Commission on Correctional Health Care. Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said the department will ensure that female inmates get to see a medical worker within 24 hours of their requests. He disputed suggestions that women were shackled during childbirth. He said restraints are only used on inmates who have mental health problems. Each year, one county jail facility houses more than 30,000 women and averages about 2,000 women in custody daily. Many women are sick when they arrive, Bobb said. The jail treats as many as 1,400 pregnant women a year.