Babies in Prison
A new program allowing non-violent offending mothers to care for their children in prison
In US prisons, pregnant offenders face the possibility of separation from their children at birth. Wee Ones is a programme allowing non-violent incarcerated mothers to care for their children behind bars.
When Brenda Singer arrived at Indiana Women’s Prison in Indianapolis, she was almost 9 months pregnant. Sentenced to two years, she risked being separated from her baby. "I was scared. I was really worried, I mean, I would have had a little under 24 hours with her." The United States puts more women in prison than any other country in the world, and the majority are mothers. Wee Ones was started in 2008 to allow pregnant low-level offenders like Brenda to stay with their newborns while still in prison. Leah Hession, who runs the Wee Ones programme at the prison, thinks that the importance of a child remaining with its mother outweighs all other concerns. "These are babies who are months old, who just wanna be held, and nursed, and loved by their mothers." Angela Tomlin from the Indiana School of Medicine believes that the programme will have many positive long-term effects on the children. "That secure attachment has so many benefits down the road. Doing well in school, getting along with other people. And really growing up to be a sensitive parent themselves."