Even though a large section of women in US prisons are mothers, we still do not have a policy to say what should happen to their babies born behind bars!
Where are these babies going? Yes, in the 1950s nurseries in prison where an everyday thing, but what happened after the prison population sky-rocketed? Studies show that the number of women in prison quadrupled, which means that prisons could no longer afford to accommodate raising a baby in jail.
It is no surprise that most mothers in prison had to give up their baby or place the kids with relatives.
Recent studies show that in order to create a mother-baby bond, the first two years of the child's life are extremely important. Children that do not experience this are more likely to act up and show bad behaviour later on in life. Another factor is that women who are allowed to raise their children are less likely to return to a life of crime.
NICRO is a non-profit organisation which offers a range of different services – crime prevention, diversion, non-custodial sentencing, offender reintegration. If you or a loved one is ever in need, do not hesitate to contact NICRO right away!
All across the world, it is agreed that a baby's place is at their mother's side. In Sweden, babies can be accommodated for up to a year (the average stay is three months). In most European countries, mothers are allowed to keep their infants through weaning. Prisons in India are required to offer nurseries and day care for mothers and their children. In Chile, jail-born children begin taking state-run educational programs at six months of age. In Mexico, children are required to stay with their mothers until they’re 6 years old, and have the freedom to leave on weekends and holidays.
For those who are angered by just thinking about babies being raised in prison, Germany represents a common sense compromise. There, qualified mothers are allowed to leave prison every morning to see their children off to school, spending the day doing housework and preparing meals for their children. At the end of the day, the women return to the jail to sleep. Their waking hours are spent fostering a stable, nurturing environment for the next generation, one that won’t have to remember a childhood spent behind bars.
Obviously, jail is not the perfect place to raise a child. However if you separate a mother from their child, this can be cruel and damaging to both mother and child.