“Babies in Prison”
The choices that we make sometimes affect our lives in dramatic ways. We may go from being on top of the world to feeling like we have hit rock bottom just within the distinction of one mistake or two. The worst thing about making a mistake is the effects that it has on the lives surrounding us – the innocents that pay for our troubles. This is especially true when you take a look at women who give birth in prison. These children did not ask to born, but more than that they are born into a system that can barely handle the criminals it contains.
The female prison population has increased dramatically in recent years. Most women prisoners are involved with drugs, and as many as 25 percent are pregnant or have delivered within the past year. Reproductive health and drug treatment services for women in prison are inadequate, if they are available at all, and although illicit drugs are readily available in prison, drug-involved pregnant women often are incarcerated to protect fetal health. Studies of pregnancy outcome among women prisoners have demonstrated high rates of prenatal mortality and morbidity (Mears 2008).
While the number of incarcerated women in the United States has increased substantially in recent years it is estimated that more than 87,000 women are in federal and state prisons as sited by Mears in Drugs and Pregnancy Equal Prison. Women constitute the most rapidly growing population in the criminal justice system: since 1980, the female prison population has increased 573 percent compared with 294 percent for men during the same period. In part because of heavier legal sanctions for drug offenses, a significant proportion of women are incarcerated for drug or drug-related crimes. These offenses include the possession, manufacturing, and sale of drugs and income-producing crimes that are committed to support drug addiction, such as larceny, prostitution, fraud, and burglary. Drug offenses accounted for half of the increase in the...