Bourgeois knew she would give beginning to her child whereas she was locked up on the Louisiana Transition Center for Women — a privately-run instructional and coaching corrections facility in Tallulah, La., for inmates inside one 12 months of being launched.
Bourgeois’s due date was in mid-Might, about seven weeks earlier than her launch date in July.
Bourgeois instructed a few of the different ladies on the facility about her predicament, and several other of them talked about that there was a corrections officer who was variety and is likely to be keen to assist her. The officer, Roberta Bell, was identified to like infants.
“Everybody mentioned she was candy and at all times stored her phrase,” Bourgeois mentioned.
One morning, whereas inmates had been lined as much as obtain their every day medicines, a good friend of Bourgeois’s approached Bell and defined the scenario.
Bell, who didn’t know Bourgeois, mentioned she walked proper over to Bourgeois and supplied to assist.
“I knew it was the correct factor to do,” Bell mentioned.
She saved a person’s life. Six years later, she saved his daughter’s life.
“Once I requested Katie if she’d like me to return and get her child when it was time, you can see the reduction on her face,” she added. “She mentioned, ‘Miss Bell, I’d love so that you can take my child, as a result of I don’t have anybody else to do it.’”
Bell mentioned that sealed her dedication.
She instructed Bourgeois that she’d take within the new child for about two months whereas Bourgeois completed her jail time.
“I knew that God needed me to comply with my coronary heart, and I knew I couldn’t enable a child to go to protecting companies when Katie actually needed that little one,” she mentioned.
Bell additionally knew it violated the principles of her employment, as a result of corrections officers usually are not allowed to provide their private contact data to inmates. She mentioned she thought she would possibly get permission below the circumstances.
Bell instructed her supervisor about her plan to take care of Bourgeois’s child till her launch in July. Bell mentioned that through the day, she may depart the child at a close-by day care that was run by a good friend.
“[My supervisor] mentioned it appeared like a battle of curiosity as a result of I labored there, however that he’d discuss to some individuals in cost,” Bell mentioned. “I didn’t hear again about it.”
Officers on the Louisiana Transition Middle for Girls and the company that operates the jail, Security Management, didn’t reply to a number of calls and emails from The Washington Put up requesting remark about Bell’s employment.
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Bell, in the meantime, watched Bourgeois’s stomach develop, and he or she waited.
On Might 16, when Bourgeois went into labor and was despatched to a hospital for the supply, Bell mentioned she was known as into a gathering with directors on the facility.
“The captain mentioned, ‘We’ve realized that your contact data was given to an inmate,’ and he instructed me it was in opposition to the principles,” Bell recalled. “He requested if I used to be nonetheless going to undergo with [caring for the baby], and I instructed him that if the hospital known as me, I used to be going to go and get that little one.”
She mentioned she needed to assist Bourgeois and determined to face no matter consequence got here her approach.
Bell mentioned she hoped the consequence wouldn’t be steep. She had labored in juvenile and girls’s corrections as a guard for about eight years and at all times loved her job, which was solely a 20-minute commute every day throughout the Mississippi border.
“I used to be conscious it could be seen as a battle of curiosity, however I’m a girl of my phrase,” mentioned Bell, who had labored on the facility for nearly 4 years. “I needed to do one of the best factor for Katie and her little one.”
She mentioned she was terminated on the spot.
The next day, Might 17, Bourgeois gave beginning to a seven-pound boy and named him Kayson.
Bourgeois was despatched again to jail to finish the remaining two months of her sentence, which she was serving for utilizing medicine whereas on parole, she mentioned. She gave the hospital permission for Bell to get her son.
“I knew that Miss Bell actually cared, and that Kayson can be in good arms,” she mentioned, including that she wasn’t allowed to see or discuss to Bell.
As soon as Bell bought a name and was instructed that she may decide up the child, she raced over to the hospital, crammed out paperwork and confirmed the hospital her identification. As soon as every part was verified, she scooped up Kayson, buckled him into the brand new automobile seat she had purchased and took him house.
She additionally had loaded up on diapers, wipes and child outfits. Among the different corrections staff on the facility introduced her a bassinet for him to sleep in.
About 700 ladies had been incarcerated on the transitional jail, mentioned Bell, including that she realized to really feel compassion for them whereas she labored there.
“So a lot of them have been used and abused and have had arduous lives on the streets,” she mentioned. “I discovered that if I confirmed them a bit of love, it went a good distance. I sensed that Katie was one who had simply made some unhealthy selections in her life.”
About 58,000 pregnant ladies are incarcerated yearly, based on a 2017 study finished by the Being pregnant in Jail Statistics Venture. Bell mentioned that by serving to Bourgeois, she hoped to provide her some stable causes to rebuild her life and discover new function.
“I do know one factor — she has a fantastic little boy,” mentioned Bell.
“He’s little boy who doesn’t cry a lot,” mentioned Bell, noting that she spent weeks feeding Kayson each 2 to 4 hours.
When Bourgeois was launched from jail on the Fourth of July, “it was additional affirmation that I’d finished one of the best factor for them each,” mentioned Bell, 58.
She was ready for Bourgeois within the jail parking zone that day to choose her up.
She mentioned she couldn’t wait to point out her how a lot Kayson had grown.
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Mom and son are staying with Bell at her house in Vicksburg, Miss., till Bourgeois can discover employment and save sufficient to dwell on her personal, she mentioned, including that Bourgeois is contemplating turning into a hairstylist.
“She and Kayson are welcome to remain right here for so long as they should,” mentioned Bell, who additionally takes care of her grandchildren each summer season. “I’m excited for Katie and what the longer term holds for her.”
Bell mentioned she just lately obtained a job serving to certainly one of her neighbors take care of an aged mother or father for eight hours a day whereas she considers future employment choices.
“Shedding my job has been arduous — my children have been serving to me out,” she mentioned.
She mentioned she is reminded that she did the correct factor each time she holds Kayson.
“To see his little face and his smile — it was only a pleasure,” she mentioned. “And now, to observe Katie with him and see all of that love and the promise of a brand new starting has made all of it worthwhile.”
Bell mentioned her dream is to start out a bunch house for girls who’ve just lately been launched from jail and don’t have any place to go. Bourgeois mentioned she would assist.
“How can I thank this girl? She’s a stranger who confirmed a lot love,” Bourgeois mentioned. “If not for this angel, I don’t know what I might have finished. I really feel like I’ve discovered a good friend eternally in Miss Bell.”
Employees researcher Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.