Friday, February 24, 2012

Pregnant Women in Prison

           The number of pregnant women in prisons is rising dramatically each year.  Incarcerated women are now the faster growing then the amount of men in the U.S. prison population.  The number of female prisoners increased by 500% during 1980 to 1995.  The number of pregnant women in prison has increased to between 6 and 10 percent.  In 1998 alone, 1,400 women gave birth while incarcerated in the United States.  
Pregnant Women in prisons is an everyday challenge for inmates and guards working in a women’s prison. Many medical issues come about in prison for pregnant women.  Inmates who were of lower economic status on the outside are more likely to have more concerns medically than those who are of a higher economic status.  Depending on their health also plays a huge role in how much medical attention they need.  If the inmate has any diseases or illnesses this would cause more medical attention that she may need. This produces a greater demand for medical care and can require more medical training for jail staff, which must be able to recognize when such care is needed.  Not all facilities allow inmates to have abortions within the facility.  Depending on if they are high risk inmates or not will depend on if they will be let out to have the abortion. 
Medical challenges are not the only challenges that the prisons are faced with when they have pregnant inmates.  They are also faced with the money challenges of having these inmates.  Like stated before, the officers and staff will have to have more training to be able to deal with a pregnant inmate which will cost the facility a lot more money to have the staff trained.  The facility will also have to have more medical staff on call just in case something will happen with the inmate or the baby.  Another money challenge would be the cost to have prenatal programs and parenting programs for the inmates.  If the facility does not already have these types of programs then they might add them, this would cost the prison thousands of dollars.  Even if the prison already has these types of programs for inmates it still costs them more money every time a child is born. 
Although there are some facilities that do not offer good programs for inmates there are some that do offer services.  The Nebraska Correctional Center for Women is one of many facilities that have great programs for pregnant inmates.  This facility allows inmates to keep their babies after birth until they are 18 months old.  The program also involves parenting classes for the inmates to learn how to take care of a baby.  There are also drug programs and alcohol programs that the mothers can attend before their child is born.  These programs also have restrictions that come along with them.  Inmates must be drug free and have no criminal history against children, they cannot be convicted of manslaughter or murder and they must be in good physical and mental health.  
Here is a link to a short video discussing pregnant women in prison



  1. Interesting topic, in 1998 1,400 women gave birth while incarcerated thats a huge number. I also heard that if women give birth while incarcerated they have to wear handcuffs on their arms and legs while giving birth, which i think is beyond cruel.

  2. So the question also becomes, "What happens to the child after birth?" If the mother does not have anyone out of prison to take care of the child, where does he or she go? This topic is very troubling and it also seems that the answers to the problems are also troubling. If the mother does have someone outside prison to take care of the child, how can she be ensured that this person will in fact take care of the child? And if she doesn't have anyone, does the child go into the foster system? What happens when she gets out of prison, does she get her child back? Depending on her charges, should she? All these scenarios are horrible and leave little room to have set rules and regulations because of the vast amount of exceptions to the possible rules. Unfortunately, I do not have the answer to what should happen but I can only hope that someone does figure it out!

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