An inmate who gave birth last September in a jail cell at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre has been reunited with her infant son after being granted bail.
Julie Bilotta, 26, gave birth to her son, Gionni, on the evening of Sept. 29 while she was in a segregated jail cell. The baby arrived about one month early.
Bilotta claims the guards ignored her calls for help and became irritated by her cries, transferring her from a shared cell to a segregation cell. Four hours later, Bilotta gave birth after two tests from jail nurses who believed Bilotta was in false labour.
Bilotta’s mother, Kim Hurtubise, has been caring for her grandson since the birth.
Bilotta, a petite woman with long, straight dark hair, was released with strict bail conditions. She appeared in the courtroom in pink moccasin-type boots, a pink shirt and cuffs around her ankles, the CBC's Julie Ireton reported.
Released to women's shelter
Ontario Superior Court Justice Joanne Lafrance-Cardinal chose to release Bilotta into the care of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa, an organization that lobbies on behalf of women going through the legal system.
Bilotta held her son for the first time Thursday with her boyfriend by her side.
She will remain in the Norwood House, a shelter for women on parole or awaiting trial, with her baby in her room. The shelter is supervised 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Hurtubise said she hopes her daughter will take advantage of free programs including post-incarceration counselling, parenting education and anti-theft and fraud education.
Hurtubise, who lives in Cornwall, drove Bilotta's son to Ottawa for the reunion. Bilotta was also transported from Cornwall to Ottawa by a representative from Elizabeth Fry.
Reunited with newborn son
Bilotta has three convictions. In November 2010, she was found guilty of theft. She was also convicted in July 2011 of violating bail conditions from the former conviction, as well as uttering threats.
A number of past charges against Bilotta have either been withdrawn or dismissed, but she is still facing a federal charge for drug trafficking and provincial charges for fraud and being an accessory after the fact.
Bilotta's bail conditions also stipulate:
- She can't leave Norwood House unless accompanied by an Elizabeth Fry volunteer or employee.
- She can't go to Akwesasne.
- She can't associate with her co-accused or use drugs or alcohol.
Bilotta will return to an Ontario courtroom on Oct. 30 for her provincial charges and a federal courtroom on Nov. 29 for the other charges.
On Wednesday, more than two dozen people gathered outside the constituency office of MPP Madeleine Meilleur, also the Ontario minister of community safety and correctional services, to protest Bilotta's treatment.
Meilleur has said there will be a systematic review of the treatment of women in jails, which the Elizabeth Fry Society said it supports.