According to the Justice Policy Institute, "Louisiana has the highest per capita incarceration rate in the country with 814 per 100,000 people. Women are the fastest growing segment of the Louisiana prison population." Both Tiffany Woods and Emmanuel Scott got life terms in prison without parole. Emmanuel was sent to Angola Prison ("The Farm"). Angola was originally a plantation encompassing 18,000 acres that was farmed by slaves prior to the Civil War. It was turned into a prison and developed a reputation for being one of the most violent prisons in the US. Recent troubling events show that some prisoners have been given solitary confinement for over 30 years (Angola 3). Prisoners still work the farm like the former slaves-harvesting cotton, soy, etc.
About a month ago I contacted Tiffany Woods' and Emmanuel Scott's lawyer, Edward Mouton. He spoke about how this case bothered him. In a later email to me, he repeated his concern, "This case still causes me to lose sleep and feel great distress." He had just seen Emmanuel at Angola Prison, "Emmanuel will have only that surreal place to live out his life."
I found that the more questions I asked, the more questions I had regarding this situation. Tiffany had older children besides baby Emmanuel. It took 10 months after the baby's death, before they were charged in his death. They were not charged as being abusive to the older children.
What did the autopsy show? A malnourished baby. But sick infants become malnourished because of their illnesss. Tiffany said the baby was sick. Was there no signs of infection? We do know that cow's milk as well as infant formula can dehydrate an infant rapidly because of their high solute load. It is one of the risks of artificial baby milks that is not discussed often enough with mothers and fathers. Breastfeeding does not carry the same risk. Were these parents made aware of the risks of artificial baby milks? (Tiffany at one time was on WIC--WIC is suppose to promote breastfeeding)
What are the risks of infant formula? Parents need to know that infant formula or any substitute for breastfeeding/human milk carries an increased risk of disease and death. For instance, "Formula-fed infants in the US have a 10-fold risk of being hospitalized for any bacterial infectiona and a four-fold risk of bactermeia and meningitis. " In developed nations "formula-fed infants have a three to four-fold risk of diarrheal illness."
Walker, M. "A fresh Look at the Risks of Artificial Infant feeding," JHL 9(2):97-107 (1993)
According to the Humanitarian Exchange Magazine on infant feeding in emergencies in Lebanon.
"In terms of child survival breastfeeding is crucial: 13% of all under-5 deaths could be prevented if all infants were breastfed--more than any other preventative intervention."
"Moreover, during an emergency people may not be able obtain enough formula to feed their baby adequately because they are cut off from markets or because of cost."
In a document by the Department of Health of Louisiana dated December 9, 2005 regarding Hurricane Katrina and the challenge to health care, "The capacity for serving low-income and uninsured populations has been destroyed or significantly reduced in the affected areas....The Department is working diligently to establish primary care services for those who no longer have access to their normal medical facilities."
The Department of Health states that their capacity to serve the poor was destroyed or significantly reduced. Did Tiffany Woods and Emmanuel Scott refuse to access health care services for their infant as evacuees of New Orleans? Or was the health care services of Shreveport so overwhelmed (5000-30,000 evacuees from New Orleans housed in Shreveport) that this couple was one of the people that fell through the cracks? Two people are in prison for the rest of their lives. Justice? What lessons has a society learned? In an article in the New York Times by Eduardo Porter called "Katrina Begets a Baby Boom by Immigrants dated December 11, 2006, "...hundreds of babies are being born to Latino immigrant workers, both legal and illegal, who flocked to the city to toil on its reconstruction." The article is about women needing jobs, being pregnant, bottlefeeding their babies because they expect to go back to work right away.
And so onward we travel....destination heartbreak....when will we learn?
Copyright 2008 Valerie W. McClain