Monday, March 29, 1999

Inmate's husband sees birth

Mom returning to cell; dad will take baby home

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Sean Turner was permitted to see his wife, Barbara Ann, give birth to their daughter, Mackenzie Elizabeth. Mrs. Turner is in prison on a prescription drug conviction.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
| ZOOM |
        With a little help from the ACLU, Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, prison officials and the gas pedal of his 1997 Dodge Neon, Sean Turner got to see his imprisoned wife give birth to their first child early Sunday.

        The Mariemont man made a speedy dash to Columbus on Saturday night after learning that Barbara Ann Turner, incarcerated since October on prescription-drug offenses, was in labor.

        Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction officials earlier this month said they wouldn't allow Mr. Turner to witness the birth, because his presence posed a security risk. But they relented after the American Civil Liberties Union and Mr. Taft intervened.

        Mackenzie Elizabeth Turner was born at Ohio State University Hospital at 12:45 a.m. Sunday, two weeks overdue but just 15 minutes after her father arrived at the hospital to welcome her.

        “It was just absolutely incredible,” said Mr. Turner, reached by telephone at the hospital. “There were about 15 people in the room — doctors, nurses, security guards, corrections people — and I didn't even pay attention to any of them. I was completely focused on my wife and the baby.”

        Leery of a relapse, Mrs. Turner decided to forgo any painkillers or anesthesia during the birth, her husband said. Ibuprofen was her only relief Sunday.

        She had been addicted to prescription painkillers since 1993, when she was a nurse and started taking the pills for a back injury she suffered while lifting a patient. She's serving 21/2 years for drug offenses in Butler and Hamilton counties.

        Prison officials allowed the new father to spend two hours with his wife and infant Sunday, a “total bending of the rules” that Mr. Turner greatly appreciated.

        Today, Mrs. Turner will return to her prison cell at the Franklin Pre-Release Center. Mr. Turner will take his new daughter home.


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