Mother forced to give birth at Santa Rita Jail awarded $250K

A mother who ended up giving birth inside a Santa Rita Jail cell has been awarded $250,000, her lawyer told KTVU on Monday.

Candace Steel, 35, was awarded that amount on on Sept. 4.

"It feels great," Steel said, speaking from her new home in Las Vegas. "Once, I get that money in my hands, it will be great for my husband and my kids." 

Alameda County sheriff's deputies and nurses originally didn't believe Steel was in labor when she cried out for help in July 2017, and Steel ended up giving birth to a baby girl named Hope in an isolation room in the Dublin facility. 

But despite the settlement, the jail's new healthcare provider, Wellpath, has yet to pay Steel, according to her Oakland attorney, Yolanda Huang. The healthcare provider at the time was California Forensic Medical Group. 

A total of $200,000 was supposed to be paid within 30 days. But as of Monday, Steel has yet to receive anything. 

Requests for comment to the healthcare providers attorneys were not immediately returned.

However, in an email obtained by KTVU, Jemma Parker Saunders, an attorney with the Bertling Law Group representing Alameda County, stated that there was a miscommunication by Wellpath’s insurer, which funded the annuity but was not funding the lump sum payment. 

The error has since been corrected, Saunders said, adding: "Wellpath placed this settlement as priority for processing but it still does have to be processed."

The sheriff's office was cleared of any liability, spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly said. 

The sheriff and his staff also denied mistreating Steel. 

In prior interviews with KTVU, Sheriff Gregory Ahern and his top administrators contended there was more to the story than what Steel had claimed. 

MORE:  Women sue Santa Rita over humiliating treatment; sheriff says facility is "best big jail in nation"

However, in January 2020, a U.S. District Court judge found that the sheriff's office treated her with "deliberate indifference." 

Steel had originally been arrested for trespassing on Caltrans property and living with another, older daughter at a homeless camp. 

Those charges were later dismissed. 

Steel said she plans to use the money on buying a new home as well as investing some of it. Her two daughters, Faith and Hope, are "doing great," she said, laughing that her youngest is a bit "stubborn," like her.

"We want to turn a new page," she said. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect that the sheriff's office had no liability in this case. A check was sent to attorney Yolanda Huang and her client, Candace Steel, on Nov. 9, a day after this story aired. 

Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez