Although 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, the Women’s Prison Association says on Corrections.com. In a new report, the group examines the expansion of prison nurseries, which allow incarcerated women to keep their newborns with them in prison for specified periods. 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.
Chandra Villanueva, the report’s author, said that, “Prison nursery programs keep mothers and infants together during the critical first months of infant development, and the research shows that these programs produce lower rates of recidivism among participating mothers.” Between 1977 and 2007, the number of women in U.S. prisons increased by 832 percent, but they still constitute only a very small percent of the total. In 1999, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics said six percent of women in local jails were pregnant at the time of admittance.