Birth in Prison

Women in prison is a growing demographic in the criminal justice system in today’s society. It is estimated that about six to eleven percent of women now populate the United States jails. A more shocking number exposed that a seventy-five to eighty percent of these offenders are women who are mothers, which now leads to the following questions: who is responsible for these children when mothers are sent to prison, should pregnant women be incarcerated and should mothers be allowed to keep their babies with them? As much as I agree that all criminals should be punished and have their rights taken away, motherhood is a privilege that can’t be stripped away so easily without repercussions, not only to the mother, but to the child itself.
Let’s start by discussing who cares for the child(ren) when the mother has been convicted and sent to prison. Based off numbers reported by the U.S. Department of Justice, statics show that majority of children, forty-two percent, are sent with their grandmother, and that’s only if the grandmother isn’t struggling with an illness or poverty themselves. Thirty-seven percent of children are sent with their father, twenty-three percent are taken care of by relatives or friends of the mother and two percent are sent to foster homes, state institutions or state agencies. Sadly, some children go uncounted for when the state doesn’t get involved when finding adequate child care, thinking that the child has been placed with acceptable supervision.
What if the female is expecting during her conviction and sentenced to prison, should the female offender be incarcerated? I personal feel that if a woman has made the decision to violate the law, she should be held accountable and be punished as any other offender would be. Giving special treatment, such as no prison time just because the female is pregnant is unjust and can be perceived as being gender bias. There are several programs that are being offered in some prison systems that offer...