Pregnant Inmate Who Was Shackled in County Jail Loses Lawsuit Against Sheriff Arpaio

mendiola-martinez-shackled.JPG
Image: Court video still via cnn.com
Miriam Mendiola-Martinez in court.
Miriam Mendiola-Martinez, an undocumented immigrant who was shackled during her pregnancy after an arrest, has lost her lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

U.S. District Judge David Campbell has ruled that Mendiola-Martinez was indeed restrained at times before and just after giving birth in 2009 but that her treatment in jail did not result in a violation of rights.

See also:
-MCSO Shackling Pregnant Moms, and Linda Ronstadt Plans to March Against Arpaio

The case drew national headlines in 2009 and seemed to be another example of Arpaio's office's discriminating against Hispanics -- an offense for which he later was found responsible both in a different federal lawsuit and by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Mendiola-Martinez was arrested by Scottsdale police for document fraud. Six years earlier, she'd bought bogus identification on the black market to obtain her job at Dillard's. At the time of her arrest, she already had two kids who were born in the United States.

After the bust, the diminutive woman, who was six months pregnant, was taken to the county's Estrella Jail to await trial. She later complained that she'd been shackled and handcuffed while being transported between the jail and the Maricopa Integrated Health Services hospital with labor pains over two days in December.

After her second arrival to the hospital, on December 21, 2009, doctors performed a C-section and a son, Angel, was born. The woman wasn't restrained during the operation, but a "tether" was affixed to her leg after the surgery. A deputy loosened the leg restraint at one point after she complained it was too tight.

She was allowed two visits with the newborn before her sister-in-law took him home from the jail.

"She contends that two days after delivering her child, while 'still bleeding from her delivery,' she was 'bound at her hands and ankles' and 'forced to walk through the hospital,' where she was then 'chained to other prisoners for 'transport back to jail,'" Campbell wrote in his ruling. But she didn't allege that she or her baby were harmed by the alleged treatment.

Image: Stephen Lemons
Miriam Mendiola-Martinez
Mendiola-Martinez sued the Sheriff's Office and other county agencies for "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs," cruel and unusual punishment, and other alleged violations.

Her suit notes that the "Arizona Department of Corrections and the United States Bureau of Prisons had ended the practice of restraining pregnant inmates years earlier."

The judge wrote that the rules of the state and federal agencies don't apply, legally, to the county. And the county, he mentioned, argued that "restraining pregnant inmates during transport remained routine practice in almost every prison and jail in the United States."

With no constitutional violation, the case lacks a "genuine issue of material fact," Campbell wrote.

The suit likened the case to two past incidents in other states involving shackled, pregnant inmates, Campbell said the women in those cases "were restrained to a greater extent" than Mendiola-Martinez, who had only a "tether restraint" attached to a leg after Angel was born.

The judge also rejected her claim that she'd suffered from an inadequate diet in prison. In fact, Campbell found, she'd been given a "regular diet, supplemented with additional milk and a prenatal vitamin."

Further, he found that an inmate's rumbling stomach isn't such a big deal: "That she was hungry while in jail does not establish deliberate indifference on the part of the County Defendants."

Of course, Mendiola-Martinez probably wouldn't have been held in jail before her trial if not for the Arizona Bailable Offenses Act, which was approved by voters in 2006. As she maintains in her lawsuit, if that for that law, she would have been able to post bond for the relatively minor offense of securing her employment with bogus documents. Yet, as Campbell found, neither the county nor Sheriff Arpaio were responsible for that law. (The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court, we should mention, recently signaled that it would review the constitutionality of the 2006 law.)

Campbell's order granted summary judgment to the Maricopa County Special Health Care District and other county defendants, and terminated the lawsuit.

Though Mendiola-Martinez lost her lawsuit, she still lives and works in the United States. New Times requested a statement about her status from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau. Here's what the agency said in reply:


"Ms. Mendiola-Martinez, who was convicted in 2009 for felony solicitation to commit forgery, is not in ICE custody. Her case is pending before the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Executive Office for Immigration Review."

"ICE is focused on smart and effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes the removal of convicted criminal aliens, recent border crossers and immigration fugitives who have failed to comply with final orders of removal issued by the nation's immigration courts. ICE exercises prosecutorial discretion on a base-by-case basis, considering the totality of the circumstances in an individual case. Please refer to ICE Director John Morton's memorandum on the agency's website for more specificity on the factors ICE weighs in making such determinations."


UPDATE: 1:30pm -- Joy Bertrand, one of Mendiola-Martinez's lawyers, says Campbell's decision will be appealed.

"She's very disappointed with the judge's ruling, but it's not the end of the world," Bertrand says of her client. The "barbaric" practice of shackling pregnant and postpartum inmates needs to be banned, she says, and she hopes the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court will agree when it gets the case.

Bertrand notes that Mendiola-Martinez spent about three months in jail and was sentenced to time served after conviction. These days, the mother of three is working in a different job with temporary permission from immigration authorities.


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35 comments
robert_graham
robert_graham

It's always about the race card isn't it?  It's policy that every inmate who enters the jail is shackled.

robert_graham
robert_graham

The jury did the right thing.  She must have been really stupid if she thought that she would not have been shackled.

OUCH
OUCH

should have killed the baby

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Shackling pregnant women is something The Taliban would do.


MCSO = America's Taliban



rose8989
rose8989

Her whole argument ignores one fact. She was in jail. A balance based on known risk factors for violence and escape with the inmates medical condition has to be reached. Have a broken arm? Restrain the legs. Missing a leg? Restrain the hands. Missing a arm and leg? Hand cuff one arm to wheel chair, and push them around.

Inmates can and do become violent or try to escape, pregnant females are no exception. No one could fault any institution for restraining a inmate in a way that does no harm, but keeps officer and the public safe.

I'm sure this lady is one that does not have a criminal mentality and can't understand that a judge is not going to bind the hands of jails and prisons from restraining potentially violent inmates. Do you want a female that is in jail for violent offenses not at the very least tethered to a bed in a unlocked maternity ward?

ExecuteTamayoNow
ExecuteTamayoNow

Oh pobrecita Miriam, let us get you a suite at the Four Seasons to ease the trauma you went through.

john043012
john043012 topcommenter

Again the writer of this story ignores the facts , throws in a few lies then he continues directing his narrative towards the illegals always being the victims. Martinez was proven in court to have committed a felony and was remanded to jail just like anyone else that commits fraud The reason they are not bondable is do to  not showing up for their court date that's why 2006 law passed. All prisoners who get transported wear shackles even in hospitals.

robert_graham
robert_graham

@DonkeyHotay  No, shackling everybody who enters the jail is something that every police and sheriffs department does.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@rose8989 @rose8989


Your argument ignores the facts that MANY jail inmates are INNOCENT, unconvicted and merely waiting for trial, and even those convicted are mostly NON-violent crimes, and even convicted criminals don't forfeit their rights to be treated humanely.



Shackling Pregnant Inmates Banned Under California Law

Bill To Stop The Shackling Of Pregnant Inmates Introduced By D.C

Maryland delegates consider a ban on using restraints on pregnant prisoners

https://www.google.com/#q=bans+shackling+pregnant+

ray.stern
ray.stern moderator

@john043012  Excuse me, but I don't believe I've "ignored" facts and I damn sure didn't throw in any "lies." 

rose8989
rose8989

When I said "a safe way that does no harm" I mean by definition, humanely.

You linked to cases that are not related to MCSO. I'm seeing a apples to oranges comparison

Any agency can abuse inmates by improperly restraining them. Pregnant woman included

A safe and humane restraint policy for all inmates with a medical condition is my point. It can is is done.

Convicted or not, any person in jail can be assessed for the risk of violence or escape based on past behaviors inside the jail, charges convicted of, and the nature of charges pending, and appropriate precautions taken.

Do you want to take care of a pregnant inmate that has already tried to stab an officer and escape with no restraints?

john043012
john043012 topcommenter

@david_Go read lemmons story dated July 7th 2010

john043012
john043012 topcommenter

@ray.stern Well Lemmons wrote on July 10th 2010 that Martinez told the authorities she purchased a person's I.D. for 400 hundred dollars  the above story Stern states she bought a bogus I.d. As far as the lies give me a break  trying too direct the narrative towards that lady being a victim is completely lying.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@ray.stern @john043012 Golly ray, as I've stated before, if I leave home without my drivers license or other form of identification, I am "undocumented".  This lady is "illegal".  

Are you smart enough to see the difference or do you simply not care?  I bet you think political correctness is liberal cool instead of it being disingenuous. 

robert_graham
robert_graham

@DonkeyHotay@rose8989 Are you an idiot or what... it's standard policy that EVERY inmate is shackled when they enter the jail... period. You only care because she is Hispanic.

rose8989
rose8989

Work in a woman's jail as I have. Watch woman that have abused drugs while pregnant. Watch pregnant woman fight with other inmates or a officer. Watch them be in labor and punch a officer between contractions. Watch the nurses undress a inmate and find a razor attached toothbrush (a homemade knife) taped to their body.

Not all woman in labor or having just given birth are maternal. Heck, their baby is going to their family or state because they are in jail, and some have already lost custody of the children they already have. They don't think in a rational way you would expect

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@rose8989 ... why don't you go ahead and list all the ACTUAL incidents of a Pregnant inmate attempting to escape or attack a guard while giving birth because they weren't shackled.


{ cue crickets chirping }

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay @fishingblues  Jazus!  You are deteriorating fast.  Keep up the brilliant posts donkey boy and you'll fit right in with your new, brain-dead, fucking loser, illegal, stupid as fuck, Arizona liberal friends.   

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay @fishingblues Coming from a donkey's ass (is that redundant?), that cuts soooooooooooooooooo deep.  Golly stinky, is that all you could come up with trying to defend your fuck-stick friend, the Bill Murray impersonator?

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@david_saint01 @fishingblues Sure, and I would love to purposely lose just so you come by and pick up your winnings.  And speaking of undocumented..............

john043012
john043012 topcommenter

Oh and by the way Stern the only victim is the person who's I.D. was stolen not Martinez. I hope someday your I.D.is compromised that'll be fun wouldn't it? 

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay @fishingblues  So stinky, is that your definition of undocumented?  Fucking  liberals spew bull shit and can't back anything up.

You are a fucking pussy as well as a fraud donkey boy.  

Why don't you explain how I am "racist" you fucking twist.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@fishingblues <== lowlife racist puke.


You're just as "illegal" as any immigrant, and far more repugnant.



david_saint01
david_saint01

@fishingblues @ray.stern @john043012 lol its fucking hilarious how you arpaio apologists defend him citing the law when it suits you, then defend him when he breaks them. Can you ass hats EVER be consistent? never mind, consistent is too big a word for you dullards

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