Female inmates fight to care for babies in jail

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Jennifer Von Reuter, WVIR Charlottesville

Female inmates who give birth while serving time in a Virginia jail could soon be able to keep their baby with them while incarcerated.

The Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail would be the second jail in the country to allow female inmates to care for their child while they serve out the rest of their sentence.

At a Jail Authority Board Meeting, members talked about the importance of keeping families intact even though the mother is in prison.

Right now there are three pregnant women incarcerated at the local jail. One of them is due this month and her release date is in September. Under this program, the mother and child would stay in the medical department for privacy.

Jail Superintendent, Col. Ronald Matthews, says he’s spoken to social services, the medical director and the jail board attorney to see if the idea is possible.

“For the most part, everybody agrees, thinks it’s a good idea but there’s a lot of things that we have to do. We have to put policies and procedures in place,” said Matthews.

The superintendent says it’s possible to have this in place by the time the woman has her baby, but there are still a lot of questions to be answered including any liability that could potentially come with this.

There are also nine state prisons that have adopted the program. The board will look at the procedures already in place at those jails and adapted them to their needs.

theGrio Asks: Should mothers in jail be allowed to care for their children behind bars?

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