[Note: A correction was made in this story to clarify that Roberta Bell was not employed in Vicksburg at the time]
Former Tallulah correctional officer, Roberta Bell, stands by her decision to lose her job in order to do what she believed was right, WLBT reports.
After working at Louisiana Transitional Center for Women in Tallulah (LTCW) for over three years, Bell faced a challenging situation a few months ago. Inmate Katie Bourgeois, from Denham Springs, Louisiana, who was a few months away from giving birth to her first child, was desperately seeking a caretaker. Initially, the idea of Bell becoming the caretaker was seen as a joke among the staff, as she primarily worked in the facility’s food hall. However, the situation took a serious turn when Bourgeois approached Bell and pleaded for her to be the 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,” said Bell.
Bourgeois believed she had no other options due to her mother going through a divorce and concerns about her ability to handle the responsibilities, coupled with previous comments about Child Protective Services potentially taking custody of the child. Before finalizing the agreement, Bell insisted on speaking with her employers at LTCW to ensure there would be no negative consequences.
Despite reaching out to her commanding officers weeks in advance of Bourgeois’ expected due date in May, Bell received no response until the last minute. By that time, Bell had already exchanged personal information with Bourgeois for the hospital’s notification of the child’s birth. It was this exchange with an inmate that led to Bell’s termination.
“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,’” said Bell.
Soon after her dismissal, Cayson Bourgeois was born on May 17, and Bell began her new role as his caretaker.
At 57 years old, Bell currently resides in Vicksburg, providing care for Cayson until Katie’s anticipated release in early to mid-July. Bell mentions that Katie is facing minor charges. While Bell’s future work plans remain uncertain, her ultimate goal is to continue helping people like Katie and Cayson.
Bell eagerly awaits the day when Katie and Cayson can be reunited, expressing gratitude for having been a part of something greater than her job.See a typo? Report it here.