Pregnant Florida inmate seeks release, says baby didn’t commit crime

(NewsNation) — A pregnant inmate in Florida is trying to be released from prison on the grounds that her unborn child is innocent and did not commit any crimes.

A filing in Miami-Dade County, Florida’s circuit court last week aims to let Natalia Harrell out of the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in Miami.

Harrell, 24, is charged with second-degree murder after investigators say she fatally shot Gladys Borcela during an argument in an Uber on July 23, 2022. The incident was recorded on the Uber driver’s interior security camera.

According to the writ of habeas corpus petition obtained by the Law & Crime Network, Harrell was six weeks pregnant at the time and “in fear of her life and the life of her unborn child.”

A writ of habeas corpus can be used to secure the release of someone who is unlawfully detained. William Norris, legal representation for the baby, argues that since Harrell is eight months pregnant, her baby is considered a person under the Florida Constitution and that the child’s constitutional rights have been violated.

“The UNBORN CHILD has not committed any crime, nor has the State of Florida, the Respondents or Miami Dade State Attorney put forward any allegations that the UNBORN CHILD committed a criminal offense. Yet, Respondents continue to incarcerate UNBORN CHILD in such deplorable conditions,” the filing states.

Since being confined at the detention facility, Harrell claims she has been getting “inadequate prenatal care.” The filing suggests the nature of the petition is emergent since Harrell has allegedly not been to the OB-GYN since October of last year.

“Time is of the essence. Delay can mean serious harm or death to unborn child,” the petition reads.

The petition accuses Miami Dade Correction of not giving Harrell prenatal vitamins and of leaving her in a transport van with an inside temperature of more than 100 degrees on one occasion. The attorney added that Harrell is in residing in a cell block or pod “where violent criminals are housed” and called it a “dangerous environment” that “subjects unborn child to serious bodily injury or death.”

Norris, on behalf of Harrell’s child, is seeking her immediate release from custody to receive medical care from an OB-GYN and for the unborn child to “avoid entering the world on the concrete floor of the prison cell.”

Michael O’Brien, who identifies as the father of the baby, told NBC Miami he is concerned for his child.

“Obviously I have concern for the health and well-being of my baby,” O’Brien told NBC Miami. “I don’t want the baby to be born prematurely or low birth weight. The conditions are terrible, and I feel she’s not getting the prenatal care she should be getting.”

Meanwhile, Miami-Dade Corrections is reviewing their health services.

“Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation partners with Jackson Health System to provide healthcare to the inmates in our custody, and we are committed to ensuring all inmates receive professional, timely medical care and all appropriate treatment,” the Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation Department said in a statement to the Law & Crime Network. “We are conducting a full review of the health services offered and received to ensure that all pre-natal care being provided in our custody is appropriate.”

Harrell is currently being held on no bond.

On Balance with Leland Vittert

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