Women Coping in Prison: How Mothers in Prison can Stay Connected to Their Children Columbia Southern University
Over the past thirty years, throughout every state there has been a drastic increase in the number of women in prison. There are only nine states which have a prison nursery in operation or currently under development. According to the “Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2004 four percent of women in state prisons and three percent of women in federal prisons were pregnant at the time of their admittance to prison” (Corrections.com, 2009). If pregnant women or new mothers in prison are allowed to keep their babies for a fixed period of time it gives the mother bonding time with the infant as well as togetherness of both the mother and baby during the critical first months of the baby’s development. This paper will attempt to answer the following questions: 1. What types programs enable incarcerated mothers to stay connected to their children? 2. What are the benefits of such programs for both the mother and the child? Mothers in prison being able to stay connected to their children can be beneficial to both the mother and child. What types programs enable incarcerated mothers to stay connected to their children?
Nine states currently have nursery programs within their women’s prisons. These nursery programs can be either on-site within the prison or off-site in a community correction setting. When the nursery is on-site it is either in a wing or separate unit of the facility away from the general population. There are guidelines that incarcerated women must meet to be a candidate for the nursery programs in prisons. A few of these guidelines are their convictions are for a nonviolent crime, and cannot have a history of child abuse or neglect with the exception of the nursery program in Washington State these mothers are not limited to convictions of nonviolent crimes. The time that a mother is allowed to parent her infant with their prison nursery programs can range from 30 days to 30 months depending on the facility in which she is incarcerated (Stein Jiang, 2010). New York was the first state to introduce the nursery program in 1902. New York stood as the only state with such a program until 1994 when the state of Nebraska started a nursery program (Stein Jiang, 2010). The other seven states which have introduced nursery programs are California, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, South Dakota, Washington, and West Virginia. West Virginia has been the most recent state to begin a nursery program it was opened in 2009 (Stein Jiang, 2010). The following table shows the states that have prison nurseries, the year the nursery program was introduced, and the amount of time the mothers can keep their babies in the prison nursery. State
Time Mothers can keep Babies
18 – 24 months
End of mothers sentence
Up to 18 months
Up to 18 months
18 months and 18 months at a pre-release center
What are the benefits of such programs of both mother and child?
It is a commonly known fact that the best place for an infant is with its mother. If the mother is serving a prison term and is a non-violent offender with no history of child abuse or neglect the best place for an infant is still with its mother. There is only a hand full of expectant mothers in the prison system allowed to keep their babies for more than 24 – 48 hours after delivery. The few that are lucky enough to meet the guidelines and be accepted into one of the prison nursery programs will get to keep their babies anywhere from 30 days to 30 months. The prison nursery program comes with many benefits for both the mother and child. The first benefit of these programs is that the mother and child have the...
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