Parenting in prison: Ohio nursery offers inmate moms, children a chance to bond

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From Cleveland. com Metro:

MARYSVILLE, Ohio — One-month-old Javon Jackson fidgets with his mom’s jacket as he drinks from his bottle and holds her hand.

His mom coos. Her friends laugh, and a precocious, 2-year-old toddler stops by and waves hi. In all, it is a typical, upbeat moment for any mother and child — until prison officials tell Javon’s mom, Janisha Meredith of Cleveland, that a head count is scheduled in 5 minutes.

Javon and four other children, who were born while their mothers were incarcerated, are being raised by their moms in Ohio’s prison nursery, a facility that sits less than 30 feet from the razor wire that circles the Ohio Reformatory for Women.

Mothers and their children sleep in 8-foot by 14-foot rooms, complete with cribs, night lights, and lots and lots of diapers. Their days are spent in a common nursery area, where inmates, assigned to be nannies, often care for the children when their mothers work elsewhere in the prison or take classes.

Since 2001, 298 infants and toddlers have lived with their mothers in the Marysville prison. The state is one of 11 in the country to offer a prison nursery. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons also has a program.

Proponents say the programs slash recidivism and allow mothers to bond deeply with their children. An annual federal grant, this year it is $61,000, funds Ohio’s project. Volunteers and officials with Ohio State University Extension provide parenting and family education classes.    Read the entire article here.