The number of women in prisons has increased dramatically in recent years, and it’s happening all over the world. The number of women incarcerated in the United States has increased by more than 700 percent since 1980. In the past decade alone, the number of women imprisoned has increased by more than 100,000.
According to the latest data released by the International Penal Reform Organization and adopted by the United Nations, there are more than 741,000 women in prisons around the world, and experts predict that 1 in 25 female prisoners in the United States is pregnant.
“The number of women in prisons around the world is climbing at an alarming rate — even though they are often convicted of low-level, non-violent crimes,” said Olivia Rope, the group’s executive director. Penal Reform International.
Pregnancy, labor and childbirth in prison are issues now more than ever in prisons across the United States as the number of women incarcerated increases.
Until recently, most U.S. prisons treated pregnant inmates like everyone else. Aside from regular meetings with the prison doctor and some extra food in the mess hall, pregnant prisoners are not treated much differently than everyone else in prison.
When it was time to give birth, the prisoner would be taken to a local hospital. After giving birth, a prisoner usually has up to about 48 hours to bond with her baby before returning to the prison. Babies go to families or social services, and mothers often have to apply for custody of the children after they are released.
In recent years, things have started to change. New programs are popping up at facilities across the country that are taking new approaches to pregnant inmates who give birth while incarcerated. So, let’s answer today’s question – can you put a baby in jail?
In today’s blog post, I’ll cover the following topics:
- Prison nursery programs rare
- How does the prison nursery program work?
- What happens when a baby is born in prison?
- Is raising kids in prison a good thing?
Prison nursery programs rare
Generally, women who give birth while incarcerated are not allowed to keep their babies while they serve their sentences. They either give their children to family members, social workers, or put them up for adoption. However, there are some facilities that do have prison childcare programs, and that number is slowly growing.
Bedford Hills, New York, is home to the oldest prison nursery in the United States. Opened in 1901, it has connected hundreds of pregnant women starting their sentences with their babies in prison. Bedford Hills is one of only eight prison nurseries in the United States.
The Decatur Correctional Center in Illinois is a women’s prison with a crèche.according to Washington posta bold experiment that has sparked a lot of debate about punishment and parenting.
What happens when a baby is born in prison?
When a female prisoner is in labor, prison staff usually take her to a local hospital. Sometimes they remain on prison grounds and give birth in medical units. Usually, only medical and security personnel are present to perform the delivery.
I should point out that a pregnant prisoner does not always know her due date, as it is believed that this information can be used to plan the escape.
Prisoners were handcuffed to their beds during labor and remained in handcuffs until they were returned to prison. Laws in four states prohibit handcuffing women during labor and delivery.
In some cases, babies are taken immediately, especially if the mother consents to the adoption. But it’s common practice for mothers to handcuff babies to their beds for hours. Usually, the mother can be with the baby for 24 to 48 hours.
How does the prison nursery program work?
In the prison where I was held, inmates were not allowed to keep their babies after delivery, but in places like Decatur, the prison nursery program allows a certain number of inmates to live in a separate unit with their babies instead of in prison. the rest of the prison population.
Decatur has six women and their babies, ranging in age from newborns to 11 months of age, in this special unit. Each mother and baby lives in a typical cell, which is specially equipped with a crib, changing table and vividly painted murals.
The cells were not barred and the women were not handcuffed to the wings. They avoid it because they don’t want to upset the kids. However, safety remains a top priority. There are cameras above each crib, and sex offenders are not allowed into the facility.
When a child was taken outside the nursery, all other inmates were ordered to stop moving and remain where they were. For playtime, there is an outdoor prison yard with a jungle gym.
These are very common practices across all nursery programs in the United States. However, there are some nuances depending on the facility. One very common thing is that each facility has strict standards for its prison nursery program.
Women in the program cannot be convicted of violent crimes. Typically, inmates serve sentences of two years or less. This rule was put in place so that mom and baby never have to be separated. It also limits children’s time in prison to their earliest years.
All prison nurseries have counselors and/or child helpers to help mothers. Some facilities also allow other inmates to work as daycare staff so moms can attend school and get a GED, take classes or receive drug and alcohol counseling.
“We told them we were going to be in your business,” said Decatur Warden Shelith Hansbro. “We’re going to tell you some things about raising your kids that you might not agree with.”
Is raising kids in prison a good thing?
Advocates for prison childcare programs say they are critical to the mother-infant bonding process. They say it produces healthier children, and that it is “motivation for mothers to improve their lives” and can reduce recidivism.
However, those opposed to such programs argue that prison is the wrong environment for children. Critics also claim that it violates children’s constitutional rights with taxpayer dollars. They also made the situation all the more painful by claiming that the programs merely delayed the inevitable split between the children and their mothers.
Destiny Doud, a mother who served 12 years in Decatur for a low-level drug offense, said having a baby is a positive thing. Dude explained that her mother was in and out of prison and she was determined not to have her daughter become the third generation of incarcerated members of her family.
“She reminded me that I now have something great,” Dude said, “something to live for.”
Hansbro agrees that a prison nursery program is needed. In her experience, one of the things that can prevent women from reoffending is bonding with their children.
“If we want them to be successful, we need them to give them the tools they need to be successful,” Hansbro said.
Do you think female prisoners should be allowed to keep their children in prison? Let us know in the comments below.
Sources: Raising Babies Behind Bars 'Alarming': female prison population rises by 100,000 in past decade – report Prison nurseries give incarcerated mothers a chance to raise their babies — behind bars 15 Things That Happen When A Baby Is Born In Prison