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Texas sheriff: No wrongdoing by correctional officers over inmate giving birth unnoticed

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(iStock/allanswart)

FORT WORTH, Texas – FORT WORTH, Texas — An inmate at a Texas jail who gave birth alone in her cell without any guards noticing had been checked on regularly, according to a sheriff’s official who said an investigation found no wrongdoing by the correctional officers on duty.

The mother, who delivered the child on May 17, has been in the Fort Worth jail since January. Details surrounding the birth have been scarce, but in a statement released Saturday night, the Tarrant County Sheriff's Office said the woman was found to be “intellectually delayed” upon intake.

The sheriff's office said the woman had been seen five times by an OB-GYN professional since February and that it was determined she might be “unable to express her symptoms and may not recognize if she were to go into labor.” Officials said doctors had planned to induce labor after 39 weeks but gave no indication of how far along the mother was when she gave birth.

“It was determined that all observation checks had been conducted every 30 minutes or less preceding the discovery of the birth,” said Lt. Jennifer Gabbert, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office. She did not immediately respond to questions Sunday about the mother's condition.

The woman had been arrested on charges of assaulting a family member and injuring a child, elderly or disabled person. Officials said the baby was placed in the custody of state child protective services.

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, according to Brandon Wood, executive director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

The jail was sent a notice of non-compliance on May 21 after inspectors found staff were late to check on a inmate who died by suicide. The jail submitted a plan to correct the issue and was re-certified six days later.