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Former Pregnant Jackson County Inmate Who Was Shackled And Chained Settles Lawsuit

Dan Margolies
Heartland Health Monitor

A pregnant woman who was shackled, chained and transported from the Jackson County jail to a facility 192 miles away while bleeding, vomiting and experiencing contractions has settled her lawsuit against the county.

Jackson County has agreed to pay Megon Riedel $50,000 in damages and to implement policies and procedures addressing its use of restraints and transportation for pregnant inmates and pretrial detainees, said ACLU attorney Gillian R. Wilcox, who represented Riedel.

“She’s thrilled,” Wilcox said of Riedel’s reaction to the settlement. “Honestly, her focus from the very beginning has been the policy and procedure and she really didn’t want this to happen to someone else.”

Riedel was 25 years old when she was incarcerated in the Jackson County jail for unknown reasons in the fall of 2012. At the time she was in her third trimester of pregnancy.

On the morning of Oct. 4, 2012, jail guards woke her up and told she was being taken to the Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correction Center in Vandalia, Missouri. Riedel was having contractions and pleaded to be taken to the hospital but a jail nurse accused her of lying, according to Riedel’s lawsuit.

Riedel was taken to Truman Medical Centers nonetheless, where an examining physician found her to be in the early stages of labor and at high risk.

The next day, after being shackled and chained, she was placed in the back of a van and driven to Vandalia, a three-and-a-half-hour trip. She remained shackled and chained throughout the ride.

Riedel alleged that her guards refused to take her to the hospital even though she was bleeding vaginally, experiencing contractions and vomiting. Upon arrival in Vandalia, a doctor determined she needed to be hospitalized and she was transported to a hospital in Mexico, Missouri, where she delivered her baby the same day.

Wilcox said the child is doing fine and Riedel is now taking mechanics classes at Vatterott College.

“We’ve very happy with the outcome,” she said. “Megon is excited about the policy and procedure changes, and the damages award will help her move on.” 

Dan Margolies has been a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star, and KCUR Public Radio. He retired as a reporter in December 2022 after a 37-year journalism career.
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