MACOMB COUNTY, Mich. – A family is torn apart and a mother is heartbroken after a woman died while serving a 30-day sentence inside the Macomb County Jail.
Jennifer Meyers, 37, was sentenced to 30 days in jail for falling behind on child support, but it ended up being a life sentence. After she was escorted into the Macomb County Jail, she died from sepsis 12 days later.
Thousands of viewers have responded to the Local 4 Defenders' story, and many of them want to know, 'where is the human dignity for inmates?' If someone is so sick that they're sweating and curled up in a ball, suffering in pain, why aren't guards and medical staff giving them the attention anyone would expect and deserve?
Meyers' parents said their daughter was more than an inmate. She was a mother, a daughter and a sister. They said she almost didn't make it into the world because she was born premature -- weighting 3 pounds and 5.5 ounces. She barely survived.
"People were running around, they were hollering on the PA," said Russell Hubble, Meyers' father.
"She was a fighter," said Diane Hubble, Meyers' mother. "She was such a fighter. Any baby that has to go through all of that."
Diane and Russell Hubble said their daughter was a happy child, playing T-ball and joining the Girl Scouts.
"She actually ended up getting the Silver Award, which is the highest award a Girl Scout can get," Diane Hubble said.
Meyers got married and had children, but a back problem turned into a prescription-pill problem, which turned into a heroin problem. She was divorced and it was best for the children that their father have custody.
"It's horrible," Diane Hubble said. "It is. It's devastating. It destroyed her."
Meyers soon fell behind on child-support payments.
"It was a child-support sweep," Russell Hubble said. "They are very proud of that in Macomb County -- how they sweep people up for child support and incarcerate them."
When Meyers was sentenced to 30 days in jail for nonpayment, there was a sense of relief.
"You just think, 'Good, I know where she is,'" Diane Hubble said. "I don't have to worry about her that she's safe, that she will be fed, she will be taken care of. If she gets sick, she will have medical care."
Then, Meyers' parents found out their daughter was dead from acute sepsis, a virus that made her very sick. According to a federal lawsuit, jail and medical staff never took her to a hospital.
"They explained that, you know, they saw Jennifer at breakfast, saw Jennifer at lunchtime, and when she didn't show up for dinner, they found her dead on the floor," Russell Hubble said.
When the Hubbles demanded reports of the death, the story didn't add up.
"Well, she was in there 10 days, she lost 17 pounds," Diane Hubble said. "That's a lot of weight. That's a lot of weight to lose. The last four or five days, she was sick and progressively got worse. Many inmates have come forward."
Meyers died July 7, 2013, but video obtained by the Local 4 Defenders shows the scene following her death and interviews with other inmates who said Meyers grew sicker each day, sweating profusely with a foul smell.
"She was literally laying in bed cuddled up like this, not even able to move," a witness said.
They claim she sought medical help for days.
"She's not feeling well and the nurses aren't doing crap about it and the officers don't give her the time of day," a witness said.
"All they had to do was call Medstar, that's all they had to do," Diane Hubble said. "They could have taken her to the hospital right around the corner."
The Hubbles thought their daughter would be safe in jail, and they don't understand why she was allowed to slowly deteriorate into death. They want to know why medical staff didn't do more to save her.
"If the inmates knew she was sick, certainly any deputy that was working during any of that time should have recognized the fact that she was sick," Diane Hubble said. "Nobody did anything."
They want to know how in this day and age, in a country as advanced as America, a person can slowly die over a period of several days in front of medical staff, guards and other inmates.
"Who would ever think?" Russell Hubble said. "Who would ever think this is going to happen to your child?"
The Hubbles said they know their daughter wasn't perfect, but they believe she deserved the human dignity of a trip to the hospital. They're speaking out so the unnecessary jail deaths come to an end.
"She didn't want to die," Diane Hubble said. "That choice was taken away from her."
The jail is run by the Sheriff's Department, and because of the lawsuit, they will not comment on the case. But following what happened with David Stojefski's death, they said they found no wrongdoing and pointed out that guards who are sheriff's deputies let the privately trained medical staff decide who needs to be hospitalized.
They said that since the Defenders started reporting on jail deaths, they have become much quicker to send inmates to the hospital when they ask for medical help.
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