Prison Nursery Programs

Topics: Recidivism, Infant, Childbirth Pages: 3 (885 words) Published: October 2, 2010
Prison Nursery Programs: A Growing Trend
Dennese Edwards

December 18, 2009

Prison Nursery Programs: A Growing Trend
In recent years, the percentage of women incarcerated has risen steadily and of that percentage a good portion include pregnant women in various stages of pregnancy. As a result, state governments faced the decision to either keep enforcing the law that removes newborns from inmate mothers after birth, or develop and implement a policy permitting mothers to remain with their babies during their incarceration. To accommodate this rising trend, prison nursery programs were created to permit departments of correction to successfully get involved in the lives of both incarcerated mothers and their infant children. This paper will discuss the problems the prison nursery was designed to resolve as well as identify it participants, program goals and other factors that contribute to the program’s effectiveness. Incarcerated pregnant women and new mothers are the primary and only participants of the prison nursery program. As mentioned previously, this program was designed to allow incarcerated women to keep their infants with them in prison for a limited period of time – particularly the first months of the infant’s life (Women’s Prison Association [WPA], 2009, p. 1). In the United States, generally after an inmate gives birth, the baby is separated from it mother and is released to the care of a family member or placed in foster care. However, inmates who are enrolled in a prison nursery program are inmates who have nonviolent and have short-term sentences – women who are scheduled to be released 24 months or less after the birth of their child. Women whose sentences are longer or have a history of child abuse are ineligible to participate. While incarcerated, some programs require the mother to complete her GED, take parenting classes, and be assigned to a part-time job within the institution. Although the program is growing,...

References: Smith Goshin, L., & Woods Bryne, M. (2009). Converging Streams of Opportunity for Prison Nursery Programs in the United States [Abstract]. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 48(4), 271-275. doi: 10.1080/10509670902848972
Women’s Prison Association. (2009). Prison Nursery Programs a Growing Trend in Women’s Prisons . Retrieved from
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