Being pregnant in prison is not as rare as people would think, according to Tracy Belz, warden at Minnesota's only women's state prison in Shakopee.
Approximately 12 to 15 percent of offenders at the prison are pregnant at any given time. Over the past five years, approximately 66 babies were born to inmates.
Inmates who deliver babies while incarcerated do not have to give up custody of their child unless Child Protection Services says there's an issue. But the babies can't live with their mothers in the prison. Mothers must designate someone who will care for the baby until its mother is released from prison.
In addition to helping inmates with a birthing plan, the Shakopee prison offers other services for mothers once they return to the facility after giving birth at an outside hospital. They allow for extended visits with their children to ensure more contact and mothers can record their voice for their children or make craft projects for them.
"We really try very hard to engage the kids and moms in a healthy, productive relationship because that's the kind of thing that's going to keep them from coming back once they get out," Belz said.
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