Babies in Prison

One of the email lists I’m on sends out news articles that may be of interest to women in their childbearing years. These articles are not just about birth, but about many issues of concern to women, such as breastfeeding, breast cancer, postpartum depression, vaccines, childhood illnesses, etc. This is the most recent article that was passed along: “Nursery programs allow imprisoned moms, newborns to bond.” In a nutshell, it talks about how that some prisons are now allowing incarcerated mothers who give birth while in prison to keep their babies with them — some as long as 18 months.

This sounds like a no-brainer to me. Honestly. Unless these women are going to harm the babies, then I would just take it for granted that it would be great. Then there was this quote:

Some critics contend keeping a baby in prison punishes the child for the mother’s offense.

I understand that with as many humans as exist in the world today, that there are going to be people that will think that letting women keep their babies in jail is a bad thing for some reasons, but to oppose this legislation because it “punishes the child”?!?! Have any of these idiots that would say such a thing actually seen a newborn? These babies would not even know that they were in a prison — they would just know that they were with their mothers. These wouldn’t be older children, we’re talking about babies and young toddlers. When babies are born, their optimum vision is about the distance from the crook of their mother’s arm up to her face — they can’t see prison bars. As the babies grow up, they will of course notice them, and the prison routine, but it will be familiar to them — all they’ve known, so they won’t know what they’re missing. But I do believe that if they are taken from their mothers unnecessarily, then they will know that they’re missing something, and they will truly be missing something huge that should be in their lives.

I’m not saying it’s the best thing for babies to be in prisons, of course; but babies should be with their mothers. For nine months, the mother has been that baby’s world — her smell, her heartbeat, her voice are all familiar and soothing to the baby. When that baby is born, the mother still continues to be that baby’s world — he is calmed most and fastest by being in her arms, with her familiar scent, heartbeat, and voice. Which doesn’t even begin to approach the benefits of breastfeeding, and the fact that separating the baby from the mother completely prevents the baby from being able to get any of this nourishment. (The mother may still choose to bottle-feed, but when they’re separated, there simply is no way.)

You wanna see punishing the child? — Punishing the child is best accomplished by taking him away from his mother. Grow a brain, people!


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