California officials are investigating accusations that poor health care at a center where mothers serve prison terms with their young children led to the stillbirth of a 7-month-old fetus and endangered the lives of several children, the New York Times reports. The 40-bed facility in San Diego has dormitory-style rooms for inmate and child adjoining shared living areas. It is run by a nonprofit contractor, Center Point Inc., which did not return calls seeking comment.
With the state’s prisons overcrowded, the San Diego program had been considered a model for nonviolent female offenders. A provision for a similar program in Fresno, the state's sixth for incarcerated mothers and their children, is in a new law that, to accommodate 53,000 more prisoners, provides $7.7 billion for prison construction and new initiatives. Studies show that 75 percent of imprisoned women are mothers. In most cases, the children are left in the care of grandparents or other extended family members, but about 10 percent are placed in foster care.