PRESS RELEASE: Guadalupe County Jail Releases Pregnant Woman

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 15, 2014

CONTACT: Kylee Sunderlin
212-255-9252
kjs@advocatesforpregnantwomen.org

Guadalupe County Jail Responds to National Outcry
Releases Pregnant Woman, Facilitates Methadone Treatment

Seguin, TX - On July 14, 2014, Jessica DeSamito, a Navy Veteran who was taken into custody on a technical parole violation and denied methadone treatment at 24 weeks of pregnancy, was released from Guadalupe County Jail. She is now under electronic monitoring at home, where she will continue to receive medical care that is essential to her health, and to the health of her pregnancy.

Ms. DeSamito was incarcerated on July 7th, pending a decision on the status of her parole. She courageously advocated for herself and her future child at the initial parole revocation hearing. Despite her efforts, as well as two expert affidavits explaining the medicals risks and legal violations of denying her medical treatment while incarcerated, she was detained at the Guadalupe County Jail and was completely denied her medication for days. This denial of essential medical care not only caused her immense stress and suffering, it also increased the risk of stillbirth.

As a result of ongoing legal advocacy by National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) and local counsel, human rights lawyer Alicia Perez, public outrage through a nationwide campaign "Justice for Jessica," and a storm of media attention, the jail began providing Ms. DeSamito with Methadone Maintenance Treatment -- a treatment that is recommended for people who are opioid dependent, and prioritized for pregnant women. Yesterday, the parole board decided to release her with continued electronic monitoring.

Upon her arrival home, Ms. DeSamito said: "I am so grateful for all of the people who took the time to reach out and help me. I've never felt so cared for and supported. I also hope that the state of Texas will learn from my experience and will start treating all pregnant women with dignity and respect."

"While NAPW is extremely pleased that Ms. DeSamito can now obtain the medical care she needs, we know that her case is not unique," explained NAPW's Soros Justice Fellow, Kylee Sunderlin. She added, "Due to rampant stigma and medical misinformation, jails and prisons, drug courts, parole and probation departments, and child welfare agencies throughout the country have dangerously restricted pregnant women and parents from receiving medication assisted treatment."

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