Prison nurseries allow inmates to live with babies

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Out of more than 100 women’s prisons in the U.S., only eight have nursery programs that allow mothers to help raise their babies behind bars. There are none in the federal prison system, and there is only one in a jail, at Rikers Island in New York City. Here is a look at the nurseries:


Facility: Decatur Correctional Center

Capacity: Eight moms and baby pairs

Length of stay: 18 months

Requirements for acceptance: To qualify, the woman must be within two years of release after giving birth and have committed a nonviolent offense.

Opened: 2007


Facility: Indiana Women’s Prison

Capacity: 10 mother-and-infant pairs

Length of stay: 18 months

Requirements: Women must be pregnant when taken into custody. No violent crime conviction or child abuse history. Must be within 18 months of release after birth to qualify.

Opened: 2008


Facility: Ohio Reformatory for Women

Capacity: 20 mothers and 21 infants

Length of stay: 3 years

Requirements: The mother must not be convicted of a violent felony and must be within three years of release.

Opened: 2001

Recidivism rate: 3 percent compared with 33 percent overall.


Facility: Nebraska Correctional Center for Women

Capacity: 15 mother-infant pairs

Length of stay: 18 months but can be extended

Requirements: The mother must not be convicted of a violent felony and must be within three years of release.

Opened: 1994

Recidivism rte: 9 percent compared with 33.3 percent for the general population.


Facility: Bedford Hills Correctional Facility

Capacity: 29 mother-and-infant pairs

Length of stay: 18 months if the mother will be paroled or on work release by then.

Requirements for acceptance: Must give birth in custody to qualify. Many aspects are examined, including the nature of the crime. A history of child abuse would prevent a woman from being accepted.

Opened: 1901

Recidivism: 13 percent versus 26 percent in the general population.



Facility: South Dakota Women’s Prison

Capacity: No limit.

Length of stay: 30 days, women are housed in a cell.

Requirements for acceptance: Nonviolent offenders preferably close to parole. All expenses are the responsibility of the mother, including health care. The women are kept separate from the general population, but there is no specific nursery.

Opened: 1998


Facility: Washington Corrections Center for Women

Capacity: 20 mother-and-infant pairs

Length of stay: 3 years

Requirements for acceptance: Must be pregnant when incarcerated. Must be a minimum-security offender. Careful screening of past criminal history. Must be eligible for work release.

Opened: 1999


Facility: Lakin Correctional Center for Women

Capacity: 5 mother-and-infant pairs

Length of stay: 18 months

Requirements for acceptance: Must be eligible for parole within 18 months. The mother must not have been convicted of child abuse.

Opened: 2009


Sources: Department of correction for each state, Women’s Prison Association.

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