When a compassionate corrections officer, Roberta Bell, working in the juvenile and women’s corrections departments in Louisiana, decided to assist a pregnant inmate in distress, she knew it could jeopardize her job. Despite this, the 58-year-old grandmother of eight had no regrets as her act of kindness resulted in unexpected punishment.
Bell’s interactions with hundreds of women at the private prison had fostered empathy within her, making her genuinely concerned for their well-being. So when she learned about Katie Bourgeois, a pregnant inmate facing a dilemma, Bell felt compelled to offer her assistance.
Katie Bourgeois, imprisoned for drug charges, wouldn’t be released until July, well after her due date in May 2023. Panicking at the thought of her baby being handed over to Child Protective Services, Bourgeois confided in her fellow inmates about her predicament. Many suggested seeking help from Bell, and when the corrections officer heard about the situation, she felt it was the right thing to do.
Bell generously offered to care for Bourgeois’ baby after the birth until the inmate’s release, easing the mother-to-be’s worries. However, this decision required Bell to share her contact information with Bourgeois, a breach of her employment terms. Still, she hoped her employer would understand the situation and the motive behind her actions.
Unfortunately, things didn’t unfold as she expected. The prison administrator called her for a meeting, expressing concern over the conflict of interest arising from her involvement with an inmate. Despite her explanation, Bell was fired for breaking the rules.
Nevertheless, Bell’s focus remained on ensuring the well-being of Bourgeois and her newborn baby, Kayson. After Bourgeois gave birth on May 17, Bell lovingly cared for the child for the next two months. She provided all the nurturing and attention a mother would give her own child.
On July 4, Bell eagerly picked Bourgeois up from prison, excited to show her how much Kayson had grown during her absence. Recognizing that the baby truly belonged with his mother, Bell was happy to return him to Bourgeois. She even allowed Bourgeois to stay with her until she found a job.
Despite losing her job, Bell had no regrets. Her experience had ignited a passion to help women like Bourgeois, and she planned to open a recovery home for women released from prison, aiming to provide them with a fresh start away from their troubled pasts.
In reflecting on her actions, Bell expressed contentment with her choice to assist Bourgeois during her time of need, and she remained hopeful about making a positive impact on the lives of other women in similar circumstances. As she embarked on a new path, Bell’s selflessness and dedication continued to shine, proving that sometimes doing what’s right is worth any sacrifice.