Babies Behind Bars

Topics: Prison, Recidivism / Pages: 8 (1838 words) / Published: Nov 30th, 2012
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 prisons that have prison nurseries. However, not all women are afforded this privilege which comes with strict qualifications. A prison nursery is a program that allows a child born to an incarcerated women to remain in the care of its mother for a restricted amount of time within a correctional facility [ (Mothers, Infants and Imprisonment: A National Look at Prison Nurseries and Community-Based Alternative, 2009) ]. Prison nurseries in the United States are only open to mothers who give birth to their children while they are serving their sentence. Prison nurseries are not fairly new to the United States. In the 1950s, many women's prisons had nurseries in which infants could stay with their mothers from several weeks to two years, depending on the institution. Within two decades, every state except New York closed them. The nurseries were deemed too expensive, the mothers too ruined and the babies too precious for such an environment [ (Kauffman, 2001) ]. The only program left operating was at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women in Bedford Hills, New York. The Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, which is a maximum security facility, has the oldest prison nursery in the United States. Opening its doors in 1901,

Bibliography: Byrne, M., Goshin, L., & Joestl, S. (2010). Intergenerational transmission of attachment for infants raised in a prison nursery . Attachment and Human Development, 375-393. Kauffman, K. (2001). Mothers in Prison. Corrections Today, 62-65. Mothers, Infants and Imprisonment: A National Look at Prison Nurseries and Community-Based Alternative. (2009, May). Retrieved from Women 's Prison Association : Schiavocampo, M. (2010, April 13). Reporter 's notebook: A look at babies behind bars. Retrieved from The Grio: Schwartzapfel, B. (2008). Lullabies Behind Bars. Retrieved from Ms. Magazine: Women 's Prison Association. (2009, July 13). Prison Nursery Programs a Growing Trend in Women’s Prisons. Retrieved from

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