- Associated Press - Sunday, June 1, 2014

MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) - Jessica Marshall is a heroin addict. She’s also an expectant mother at the Muskegon County Jail who was recently sentenced for a probation violation to another 200 days behind bars.

Marshall, who is detoxing in the county jail, isn’t alone, according to The Muskegon Chronicle (http://bit.ly/1myHYzP ).

The overcrowded, aging jail that is currently being renovated and expanded, has a new problem: Heroin-addicted mothers. Officials say one in every three pregnant inmates at the Muskegon County Jail comes in as a heroin addict.

Marshall, 27, is among at least four other pregnant inmates currently lodged at the jail. Some have been there for months; others are waiting to be sentenced.

In Marshall’s case, she will remain there until close to her October due date - a decision made by Muskegon County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Hicks who sentenced her on May 19 for a probation violation.

The judge said he felt the baby was better protected in the confines of the county jail than if Marshall was back out on the streets faced with temptation to use drugs again.

Marshall can’t dispute that logic.

This is her second in-jail pregnancy. The first time she came to jail pregnant, just over a year ago, she had to detox in the jail until she was released. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, she said.

“I was in here for a good amount of my pregnancy. I got out three weeks before he was born. I kept praying, please get me out before I have this baby,” she said.

For this pregnancy she is taking methadone to fight the demons involved with heroin. She found out she was pregnant shortly before being lodged on the most recent probation violation and after testing positive for heroin while on tether from a retail fraud offense.

The young mother has two other children - the oldest no longer in her care.

“I need help,” she said. “I think God intervened at the right time. I’m not in the streets and not around that lifestyle.”

Those with a heroin addiction make up just one of many issues involving the care of pregnant inmates, according to county jail officials.

“We get a lot of girls who come in here who are far along in their trimesters and they haven’t been to a doctor,” said David Lopez, an LPN who is the Muskegon County Jail Health Services administrator.

“Another big problem with some of the inmates is the illicit drug use while they are pregnant. They are on heroin and take methadone when they come in. So now we’re not only treating the inmate, but we have to make sure the health and welfare of the baby is good, too.”

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