The Women’s Prison Association (WPA) has released the first-ever national report on prison nursery programs. The report examines the expansion of prison nursery programs across the U.S. These programs allow incarcerated women to keep their newborns with them in prison for a finite period of time. The report also looks at community-based residential parenting programs, which allow women to serve criminal justice sentences with their infants in a non-prison setting.Texas was not listed as one of the states with prison nurseries (which were California, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Nebraska, New York, South Dakota, Washington, and West Virginia). Does anybody know what happens here with incarcerated mothers and young babies? It's a question I've never thought to ask. Texas passed legislation this year limiting authority to shackle pregnant inmates during labor, but I don't know what happens with the babies after they're born.
The report finds that the number of prison-based nursery programs is growing, but that such programs are still relatively rare. Though every state has seen a dramatic rise in its women’s prison population over the past three decades, only nine states have prison nursery programs in operation or under development. Of the nine prison nursery programs existing or in development, four were created within the last five years. ...
The report (pdf), Mothers, Infants and Imprisonment: A National Look at Prison Nurseries and Community–Based Alternatives, is available online at www.wpaonline.org.
MORE: A quick search of TDCJ's website on the topic revealed this story from the Galveston Daily News about the birthing center for pregnant mothers at TDCJ's Carole Young medical unit in Texas City:
Though this tells me about where pregnant inmates give birth and visitation policies for infants and young mothers, it doesn't provide a clear picture of what exactly happens to young infants after they're born in Texas prisons. Perhaps readers have more information on the subject.
The minimum-security unit has helped female offenders with medical needs since 1996. It serves both state jail and Texas Department of Criminal Justice offenders. The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston provides the medical care. ...
Between 80 and 100 of the patients at any time are pregnant; inmates assigned to the facility because of its obstetrical clinic typically make up the largest patient group.
After delivery, new mothers on the unit who have permission from the warden participate in the Love Me Tender baby-bonding program, in which they can see their babies not only during scheduled weekend visitation hours, but also for any two-hour period weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The babies are not housed at the unit, but state Rep. Rick Noriega of Houston has filed a bill, HB 1770, which, if passed [ed note: it failed], would provide housing for infants up to 1-year-old.
After one year, Simpson noted, another Texas Department of Criminal Justice program allows extended visitation with children up to 16 years old, so inmates “roll from one program right into another.”