58-year-old Roberta Bell lost her job as a correctional officer after caring for an inmate’s baby.
Bell worked at the Louisiana Transistional Center for Women where she met Katie Bourgeois. Bourgeois was about to give birth and had two months remaining on her sentence. She didn’t have anyone to take care of her baby while she was locked up, so she asked Bell to care for the newborn until she was released. Bell agreed to do so.
Bell said that she later informed her supervisor who warned her that it could be a conflict of interest. However, he later asked her if she was going to still care for the baby. Bell stated that she was going to care for the child and was then terminated.
A week later, Bourgeois’ baby boy was born, and Bell immediately went to the hospital.
When Bourgeois was released from the hospital on July 4th, she went to Bell’s residence to get her child.
When word got out about Bell’s actions, the community began to chip in, sending her diapers and formula. $90,000 was also donated to Bell after she regained employment, sorting cans at a food distributor. She used some of those funds to assist another pregnant inmate.
Now, Bell has created the “Serenity House,” a residence in Mississippi that she is repairing in order to prepare a transitional home for women when getting out of prison.
Her desire is to keep up the work she did at the prisons and change women’s lives.
“I’m hoping it’ll be ready before the first of the year,” Bell said,”because them ladies calling me.”