DETROIT--After receiving a letter from the ACLU of Michigan asking for legally appropriate accommodations for a breastfeeding inmate at the Ingham County Jail, officials at the jail said today that they've agreed to allow the inmate, who was denied the opportunity to express milk last weekend, to bring her own breast pump.
“The ACLU applauds the Ingham County Sheriff’s Department for acting immediately upon receiving our letter," said ACLU of Michigan staff attorney Miriam Aukerman. "Being able to express milk is a serious medical need for women, and jails and prisons have an obligation to ensure that they are meeting these needs, either by allowing women to pump or to breastfeed. We're glad that Ingham County agrees and has decided to get this right."
Officials at the jail will issue a directive to all staff to ensure that other breastfeeding mothers be similarly allowed to bring a pump in the future.
The ACLU wrote the letter on behalf of Christina Milliner (shown above), who is breastfeeding her prematurely born infant son, after she complained that her breasts became engorged and discolored and she suffered dehydration earlier this month when deputies at the Ingham County Jail would not provide her with a breast pump or allow her to bring her own.
“When I went to jail (in early August), they refused to let me pump," said Milliner, who is scheduled to report to the jail for brief incarceration on Friday. "As a result, I was in constant, excruciating pain. But worse than my pain was my fear that, by the time I was released, my milk would dry up and I would no longer be able to breastfeed my newborn, Micah. My baby was so tiny when he was born, and Micah's doctors had kept telling me how important it was that I breastfeed him. No mother should have to go through this--and certainly no child should either."
The letter, sent to Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth on Wednesday, warned that failure to take care of Milliner's lactation needs will subject her to further pain and will thus violate her Eighth Amendment rights.