The Pros And Cons Of Prison Nursery

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Between 1991 and 2000 the number of parents incarcerated in state and federal prisons increased by 79%. In addition, five percent of all women in jail are pregnant. Thus, a state department of corrections may have more than 100 women give birth while incarcerated in any given year. Most of these children are immediately separated from their mothers. The separation of the child and mother may cause increased levels of anxiety and depression for the mother and seriously disrupt the mother-child relationship. Healthy births combined with the parenting ability of the mother are crucial to the well-being of the child, as well as, the successful reintegration of the mother back into society. Prison nurseries are a potential answer to these problems. …show more content…
Research has found that infants that live in a prison nursery are just as attached to their mothers as children in normal society. Children that live with their mothers in prison nurseries tend to have lower amounts of depression and anxiety than children who were separated from their incarcerated mothers. The more time a child spends with the mother in the prison nursery, the greater the positive impacts will be. Prison nursery programs have been found to aid the mothers parenting ability in several ways. The women in these programs reported an increase in self-esteem regarding their parenting and increased parental knowledge. These changes have important implications for the future behavior of the child and general parenting outcomes. Research has also indicated a reduced rate in recidivism among the participants of prison nursery programs. However, many of the studies testing recidivism lacked methodological rigor regarding control groups and follow-up …show more content…
The pre-WON described the separation experience as traumatic. The majority of the pre-WON group felt the actions of the guards had the biggest impact on their experience. Guards that offered emotional support or understanding had a positive impact, while guards who offered no support or communication had a negative impact. Breastfeeding rates differed notably between the groups; 60% of WON participants breastfed while only 33% of pre-WON mothers breastfed. This is largely to due resource and safety issues. WON mothers were provided lactation classes and electronic breast pumps, while pre-WON mothers had to purchase breast pumps and pay to mail the breastmilk. The pre-WON group reported distrust in the prison staff to properly store and send the breastmilk. Many of the WON participants reported having an overall positive experience with the prison nursery. Participants viewed the nursery staff as caring and taking a special interest in the women. Many of the women believed the staff went above their assigned duties and provided the women with a rehabilitative experience. The nursery had paid inmates to serve as nannies for the women. The WON participants reported negative experiences with the inmate nannies. The women discussed issues with favoritism, did not view the nannies as trustworthy, and felt as though the nannies had too much authority over them. A nannie could report a perceived

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