Babies Behind Bars

Published: 18 November 2019

“Women’s prison opens nursery for mothers, babies behind bars”
(The Blade, September 16, 2019, Kaitlin Durbin)

The women’s prison in Marysville, Ohio has just opened up a new $2 million dollar addition to their nursery for women to promote family bonding. It is refreshing to know that some states in the US are seeing the importance of having a child bond with their mother despite the fact they they are incarcerated. Statistics have proven that the more social experience a child has with a person, the more likely the child will become attached to that person. This initial social tie between mother and child serves as a prototype for all future relationships. This practice is also helpful in teaching new mothers and mothers who may lack parenting skills, the necessary tools to raise healthy children and become better parents. I was fortunate to be able to bond with my daughter and gain vital skills from prenatal and parenting courses that were available at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in New York, one of the first of its kind to have a nursery for incarcerated women. Unfortunately I did not fit the criteria and had to send my daughter home after 8 weeks.

America has the largest prison population in the world and the biggest female prison population and it’s growing (Sawyer and Wagner, Prison Policy Initiative). Far too many of our lawmakers and politicians fail to think progressively about the future of the women they put behind bars as well as the long term effects that these laws have on the lives of their children. Programs geared to encourage and support a healthier community for incarcerated mothers and their children will help to keep mothers from recidivism and reduce the chance that the child will become an offender. We have to engage our rights as citizens by getting educated about the mass incarceration of our sisters and create opportunities for the most marginalized groups in our own communities. I strongly recommend that anyone interested should look for shelters, jails and prisons or local faith based organizations and women’s groups that support these venues by volunteering and get involved with. We can all make a difference in the lives of women and children. With the political climate so strongly opposed to women’s rights, we can not let our voices go unheard.

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