Inmate: HPD jail's breast pumping conditions horrible

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What one woman says happened to her during a quick stay at the HPD jail shows us there are very few legal guidelines on breast pumping (KTRK)

There are strict laws to protect nursing mothers in the workplace. But what about breast pumping in jail? What one woman says happened to her shows there are very few legal guidelines when it comes to this issue.

Samantha Toscano ended up behind bars for a couple of unpaid traffic tickets.

"They shouldn't have treated me the way they treated me," said Toscano.

For not paying traffic tickets, Houston police say she was picked up on a warrant held at HPD jail then released about 10 hours later. But while she was in there she had to breast pump for her premature newborn and was horrified by the conditions and what the clinic worker told her.

"When I do get to the clinic, she gives me a broken pump that was filthy, and it had old milk stuck to the bottom," said Toscano. "She told me, 'You can go pump in the restroom,' and the restroom was nasty.

To Scano said because the pump turned out to be broken she became painfully engorged. She ended up breast-feeding her baby in the parking lot after she was released.

While labor laws mandate employers give employees a private space to moms, laws on jails are different.

According to Houston health officials, to their knowledge, all the law requires is that the jail must allow a detainee to pump. There is no language or rule on private space or the condition of the pump.

"In the jail setting, the rules say that women can pump any place they're allowed to be," said Kathy Barton of Houston Dept. of Health and Human Services. "In this situation, she was allowed to breast pump in a room next to the clinic that also happened to have a toilet in it but was not a public restroom."

While they did not comment on whether the pump was dirty, Health and Human Services officials said they will make sure pumps are properly sanitized in the future. Scano says no baby should have to pay for the wrongdoings of the mother and she said that starts with better pumping conditions in jail.

Toscano said since the incident, she has since paid off her two traffic tickets.
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breast feedinghouston police departmentHouston
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