Louisiana Parole Board Recommends Clemency for Woman Whose Baby Died
The Louisiana Parole Board has decided to recommend clemency for a mother who was convicted of killing her baby due to malnutrition in the months following Hurricane Katrina according to KATC. The woman is serving a life sentence.
The next step for Tiffany Woods is for the recommendation to be reviewed by Governor John Bel Edwards who will have the ultimate decision on whether or not to release the woman.
What Happened to Cause the Death of This Child?
According to Tiffany Woods after her baby boy was born she did have formula that she purchased through WIC funding. That worked for a while until the funding ran out. She says at that time she thought she could give the child cow's milk diluted with water and that would work for the child's nutritional needs. But, it did not. The child, Emmanual Woods, died of malnutrition several months after his birth.
The couple ended up in Shreveport. She was quoted as saying at the hearing,
I changed his formula to organic milk. And due to my choices, I thought I was making the right choice. But clearly, I didn't. And a couple of months in he passed away.
The prosecutor, assistant district attorney for Caddo Parish, Suzanne Ellis, said Woods and the father both knew what they were doing was wrong. Ellis added,
This was not the first time Ms. Woods harmed one of her children in this way. One of her older children, CPS had to intervene because she was doing the exact same thing.
Regardless of this, the Louisiana Parole Board did vote for the woman to get clemency.
Dr. Lakeisha Richardson of Greenville, Mississippi says when money is tight, families can turn to other methods to feed their children that are not nutritional sound.
You know, somebody tells them, 'I'll just dilute that formula. You know, you don't have to do with the instructions. They just give it a little bit more water and, you know, for babies, too much water is bad.
Richardson says you end up diluting the substance so much that needed nutrients are lost. Richardson also points out that young mothers get conflicting information. The doctor or nurse may tell you to do one thing, but you lean on the advice of family members instead.
Woods has spent 17 years in jail. She was surrounded by her family, including her older children during the clemency hearing. Her children say despite her incarceration their mother was there for them during the years she has been in prison. Woods says she is a changed person who wants to teach other young women by telling her story.