Fathered by Corrections Department Employee
By Liz Townsend
Newspaper reports in
early October exposed a sordid environment in Kansas prisons where
corrections department employees trade cash and black-market items
with female prisoners for sex. An inmate at the Topeka Correctional
Facility conceived a child with an employee and aborted the baby in
December 2007. The prisoner, Tracy Keith, told the Topeka
Capital-Journal that although she was interested in planning an open
adoption for the baby, she felt an unspoken pressure to make the
While she admitted
that officially she made the final decision to abort the baby, Keith
said she asked a social worker if an open adoption would be a
possibility. “Keith said she was led to believe that with two years
left on her sentence, and no solid family support network on the
outside, the state would sever her parental rights if the baby was
born,” the Capital-Journal reported. Keith also said she was aware
of “hints” that an abortion would allow her to avoid further
problems during the remainder of her sentence.
called for further investigation into any coercion that may have
been used against Keith. “It is against the law to force a woman to
get an abortion,” said Kansans for Life legislative director Kathy
Ostrowski. The Capital-Journal published several articles examining
Keith’s case and other reports of sexual misconduct between prison
employees and inmates. In the wake of the articles, Kansas Gov. Mark
Parkinson announced that the state would conduct a policy and legal
“I am angry any time
there is an incident of exploitation of a prisoner,” Parkinson told
the Capital-Journal. “It is completely unacceptable, totally
Keith told the
newspaper that the employee, vocational plumbing instructor
Anastacio “Ted” Gallardo, would often trade tobacco and food with
female inmates in exchange for sex. She agreed to a trade for cash
in October 2007, and knew soon after that she was pregnant.
According to the
Capital-Journal, Gallardo tried several times to kill the baby
without prison officials discovering the pregnancy. He smuggled
morning-after pills to Keith and insisted she swallow them, tried to
get RU846 pills illegally from Mexico, arranged for another inmate
to kick Keith in the stomach, and attempted to persuade her to
escape from jail and have the abortion. None of these schemes
resulted in the baby’s death, and prison officials discovered that
Keith was pregnant based on a tip from another inmate.
department employee drove Keith to a Planned Parenthood clinic to
abort the baby on December 19, 2007. The abortion was paid for by
donors, and samples of the baby’s tissue were taken for DNA testing.
The tests showed that Gallardo was the father, according to the
Gallardo pled guilty
June 19, 2008, to charges of trafficking in contraband and unlawful
sexual conduct. Although prosecutors asked District Court Chief
Judge Nancy Parrish to sentence him to jail time, Gallardo received
only two years’ probation.
Keith faced derision
from other inmates after the abortion. “I was called a baby killer,”
she told the Capital-Journal. “They said I was a snitch for telling
the truth. They tried to jump me.”
investigation found that one-third of Topeka Correctional Facility
employees may have been involved in contraband exchanges with
prisoners. Corrections officials called this figure inflated,
estimating that 2% of the department’s employees across the state
have committed such crimes.
Sexual abuse of
prisoners is a persistent evil in the corrections system across the
country. The National Prison Rape Elimination Commission found that
inmates are abused more often by staff members than by other
prisoners, and recommended that officials must take concrete steps
to stop sexual exploitation of inmates.
“Individuals who are
incarcerated have basic human rights,” said commission chairman U.S.
District Judge Reggie Walton, according to the Capital-Journal.
“Just because they’ve committed a crime and they’re incarcerated
does not mean that their human dignity can be abused.”