Babies Behind Bars

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The rate of women being incarcerated in prisons has dramatically risen over the last decade. While these women are being locked up for crimes ranging from drug possession to murder, they often come into the prison system with children or pregnant. Nationwide, nearly 2 million children have parents in prison. The number of those with incarcerated mothers is growing rapidly. A recent report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that the number of minors with mothers in prison increased by more than 100 percent in the last 15 years [ (Schwartzapfel, 2008) ]. While some women must give up their children before or after they enter prison, a handful of women get to keep their children. These women serve their sentences at one of nine…show more content…
She also should not have any serious mental health concerns. A screening committee reviews each case before women are placed in the nursery. The mother must be able to complete her sentence by the time the child is 18 months old to be eligible (Mothers, Infants and Imprisonment: A National Look at Prison Nurseries and Community-Based Alternative, 2009). Four years later, Pierre, South Dakota opened its prison nursery in the South Dakota Women’s Prison. The Mother-Infant Program is the only prison nursery that doesn’t have a limit to how many infants can stay. However, it has the shortest length of stay being thirty days. Women who give birth while in custody are allowed to participate in the program as long as the mother's crime was non-violent in nature. All expenses related to the baby's care are the responsibility of the mother, including health care expenses. Mothers keep their infants in their cells. Other women at the facility are able to take classes to become babysitters and the mothers are able to choose who they would like to act as their babysitter. The Washington Correctional Center for Women in Gig Harbor, Washington, opened its doors to a prison nursery in 1999. To qualify for the Residential Parenting Program, the mother’s sentence must be completed within three years of giving birth. The women must also be classified as minimum custody and be
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