Mississippi woman loses job after becoming caretaker of inmate’s newborn child
Roberta Bell worked at the Louisiana Transitional Center for Women in Tallulah, Louisiana, for over three years. A few months ago, she was presented with a challenging situation.
“She was trying to find somebody that would help keep her baby until she finished her term,” Bell said.
Inmate Katie Bourgeois was just months away from giving birth to her first child and was desperately looking for a caretaker.
“She was very concerned about Child Protection Services getting the baby and her not knowing where the baby was since she had such a short term to serve,” Bell said.
Bell says the thought of her becoming the child’s caretaker was just a joke among the staff, but it became a reality after Bourgeois came to her one day and pleaded that she be the caretaker of her child.
“She said, ‘I really need somebody to get my baby when I get ready to have it because I don’t have anybody,’” Bell said.
According to Bell, Bourgeois didn’t believe she had any other options because her mother was going through a divorce and Bourgeois was nervous about her child being in Child Protection Services custody.
Before the last step of the agreement could be sealed, Bell told Bourgeois that she still needed to speak with her employers at the transitional center to make sure no repercussions would come as a result of a potential deal.
Bell says she contacted her commanding officers weeks in advance of Bourgeois’ anticipated due date in May but never heard a word until days before the baby was born.
“Nobody ever got back with me until it was about two or three days time for her to deliver,” Bell said.
Bell says that by that point, she had already exchanged the information with Bourgeois that was needed by the hospital for when the baby was born.
She says that the exchange of information with an inmate is what got her fired.
“I said, ‘Major Murray, if the hospital calls me to come get this baby, I’m going to get him.’ He said, ‘Well, I’m gonna have to terminate you,’” Bell said.
Days after her termination, the baby was born.
Cayson Bourgeois was born May 17, and from that moment, Bell was officially on the clock for her new job.
The 57-year-old now lives at home in Vicksburg, Mississippi, watching over Cayson until the day Katie is released. Bell anticipates that day will be sometime in July, saying Bourgeois was in for “minor charges.”
She says her plans for work following her caretaking duties are unknown, but her dream goal is to help even more people like Bourgeois and Cayson.
“My passion was to open a recovery home for the women that are coming out of prison. I have not been successful in that yet, but I know that I will be. To get them away from the surroundings that they were in that caused them to get in trouble, that’s my passion,” Bell said.
Bell was asked if she would go back and change anything about the situation.
“I wouldn’t because this is me. There’s no changing. I’m stubborn. Once I do something, that’s it. I’m not going to change my mind. I’m not going to back down. I’ve never been that type of person. I think that God has created me to minister to the women that don’t know him,” Bell said.
Bell says she’s anticipating the day Bourgeois and Cayson are reunited with each other and that she’s blessed to have been a part of something bigger than her job.
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