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Sheriff Responds To Criticism After Baby Born In Macomb County Jail

MOUNT CLEMENS (WWJ) - Nearly a year following the birth of a baby in the Macomb County Jail, the inmate-turned-mom and her family are making their concerns public.

According to authorities, 27-year-old Jessica Preston was arrested in Warren in March of 2016 for driving on a suspended license. Unable to post a $10,000 cash bond, Preston waited behind bars for her court date.

As labor pains intensified, surveillance video shows Preston telling the jail's medical staff she needed help, but they did not transfer her to a hospital.

"They told me to knock my crap off, to stop lying to them, they could put another charge on me if I kept lying to them," Preston told CBS News.

Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham insists that Preston, who was eight months pregnant when she was booked, was provided adequate care at the jail.

Talking to WWJ's Charlie Langton on Thursday, the sheriff said his staff evaluated Preston "on several occasions" before the birth and "didn't believe she was in labor."

The baby ended up being delivered on a mattress placed on the floor of the jail's infirmary cell, without a doctor present.

"I was scared; I was terrified," Preston said. "I was so worried for both of us that either one of us could catch something that would be life-threatening."

Why was she not taken to a hospital?

"That's always our plan, you know, is to make that happen," Wickersham said. "But in this situation she was brought down, our medical staff was attending, and when they went back in the baby started to come. Safe delivery, baby was healthy."

He insists that his staff did what was necessary.

"Again, do I like to have babies born in our jail? No," Wickersham said. "But in these situations — as anybody out on the street, any husband and wife know — driving to the hospital, sometimes that baby comes out. They pull over, and I know our deputies have delivered babies on the side of the road."

After delivering her son, Preston was sent back to jail where she spent five more days.

Wickersham said it's his understanding that both mom and baby are doing well.

"Obviously the story's out there; the things we should've done, and obviously we're looking at all of our situations," he added. "But as sheriff I look at all this and our staff and the medical staff acted appropriately."

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