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Inmate gives birth to boy at county detention center

October 17, 2003|by

gregs@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown - A 31-year-old inmate at the Washington County Detention Center gave birth to a baby boy Sunday inside a holding unit for pregnant inmates, marking the first time a baby was delivered inside the jail, detention center officials said Thursday.

Karen Sue Perry's son, Trevor Dre Shockey Pensinger, was taken Thursday to St. Petersburg, Fla., to live with his uncle, Benjamin Pensinger, the uncle said.

Benjamin Pensinger said Trevor is taking his last name for custody purposes.

Perry, of Chambersburg, Pa., was treated at Washington County Hospital and taken back to the detention center Tuesday.

Washington County Sheriff Charles F. Mades said it is general policy to avoid births inside the detention center. He said there have been none since the jail's opening in 1984.

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Nevertheless, he said, in Perry's case "there was no complications that I'm aware of. ... Everything's fine. Everybody's good."

According to court and jail records, Perry is being held on $65,000 bond for a parole violation. She has been at the jail since Aug. 15.

Perry was convicted July 1 on one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and ordered to spend six months in a prenatal care and treatment center. She checked herself out a week later, violating her probation agreement, according to court records.

Cpl. Daryl Long, the duty officer in charge Sunday morning, said jail personnel were aware that Perry was pregnant and that she was being taken to a local obstetrician once a week.

Perry was being held in a special unit designed for pregnant women, and there were six women being held there last week, including Perry, Long said.

Long said he began his shift at 8 a.m. He said staff from the previous shift knew that Perry was having contractions, but a test showed her water had not broken.

At 9 a.m., Long said officers in Perry's unit radioed that she might be in labor, but it was not clear if "she was actually going to (immediately) have the baby there or not."

Long said at 10:10 a.m., according to his notes, her contractions were "back to back" and lasting 40 seconds. A few minutes later, a nurse who came to the holding unit said she could see the baby's head, and jail officials called for an ambulance.

According to emergency dispatch records, the ambulance was dispatched at 10:32 a.m. and arrived at 10:40 a.m. The medics finished delivering the child in the holding unit, Long said, and the ambulance arrived at the hospital with mother and child at 11:04 a.m., dispatch records indicate.

Mades said administrators met Monday to discuss the birth and found that jail officials and medical staff followed procedures properly.

"It's the first time it happened, and apparently, everything happened the way it was supposed to," Mades said.

Mades said there usually are about one or two inmates who have babies while they are incarcerated, but they all have been delivered outside the jail. He estimated that about 20 inmates had delivered babies while they were inmates since the jail opened.

Pensinger said the boy "didn't need to come into the world the way he did," but "Karen at this point is fine, and Trevor at this point is fine. ... Trevor's the most important thing right now."

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