Montgomery County Jail, Conroe, Texas
Elizabeth was held pretrial for one month in Montgomery County jail. She had several autoimmune disorders that required proper care, and was nearly 7 months pregnant. Her mother, Cindy, advocated for help as the jail failed to adequately provide for either condition. Their story is told from the perspective of both mother and daughter.
CINDY: My name is Cindy. When my 21-year-old daughter was in the Montgomery County Jail, she was 27 weeks pregnant. I couldn't get in touch with her so I did not know about the care she is receiving or not receiving. I was very worried about her because she has several autoimmune disorders and must see a high-risk obstetrician for her pregnancy. I knew that they were not providing her with this type of care.
ELIZABETH: I have mixed connective tissue disease. I’m pregnant – high risk. I didn’t see a doctor for my high-risk pregnancy for three and a half weeks of being incarcerated, and they didn’t tend to my disease. I went in for a two-week evaluation and my blood pressure was really high. She asked if it was normally high and I said ‘no.’ She said, ‘Oh, it’s probably from stress from intake.’ I said, ‘I went through intake two weeks ago when I was arrested – that’s not it.’ And she sent me back.
[Because] my blood pressure was up, I requested to be monitored for a few days. They said I had no high blood pressure - that I was fine. I kept sending grievances in and was finally seen.
CINDY: I was worried about her health, and the baby's health. Elizabeth has Mixed-Connective Tissue Disease, which is a messed-up combination of Lupus, Scleroderma and Rheumatoid Arthritis. She also has Reynaud's Phenomenon, which is a vascular disease that requires several different medications that allow my daughter to keep her limbs. Without them, her blood vessels will slowly die, resulting in amputations starting with fingers, toes, nose and ears, then move gradually up the body. Have you ever felt the temperature of the jail? I haven't, but I hear that it is freezing in there. This is what promotes my daughter's disease. Her body cannot physically withstand these cold temperatures. From what I understand, they did not provide her any extra clothes. Just a very thin jumpsuit.
ELIZABETH: It’s so cold it’s unbearable.
CINDY: I was unable to sit back and watch her NOT be treated for her illnesses. What happens if my daughter just doesn't wake up one morning? What happens if she just falls over and she and the baby (my innocent granddaughter) both die? These are serious conditions that need to be addressed and now, not later.
ELIZABETH: I had really bad edema and was very unhealthy. I was retaining fluid and the guards wouldn’t let me use an extra chair to elevate my feet. They wouldn’t send me to the doctor until my mom complained. Then they lied to my mom and told her I had been to the doctor several times when in fact I had not.
CINDY: When I went to visit Elizabeth, she was so swollen from the pregnancy and how salty the food is. The protein in the food is only made of soy.
ELIZABETH: The food does not give the nutrients needed. It’s all soy products. No real meat.
CINDY: I am truly at a loss here. I have never been in jail, nor has anyone else in my family. I was not asking for anything she does not deserve, but she does deserve proper healthcare, and so does her unborn little girl. I sent hundreds of dollars worth of Elizabeth’s prescriptions to the jail, but they never gave her any of her medications.
ELIZABETH: When I was in holding, there was a mentally ill lady who was in there. She was upset, crying, and didn’t know what was going on. The guards put her in a small, metal cell for a week with no bed or shower in order for her to cooperate, because she couldn’t understand what was happening. She should have been in a hospital, not mistreated that way.
CINDY: I couldn't sleep, I could barely keep up with myself for all the stress I was carrying. I love all of my children, even though they aren't always perfect. I am a mom. I need my daughter to live a long, healthy life.
After a month in jail, Elizabeth’s family posted bond and she was released. The charges against her were later dropped. Her daughter was born in December 2014.
CINDY: Elizabeth is doing great. She got her dental assistant license and is going to nursing school. She is beautiful and her baby is healthy. Her daughter loves her mom so much.
ELIZABETH: Thanks for giving me the opportunity to try and help other people.