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News Mississippi Investigates: Babies Born Behind Bars, What Happens When Mom’s on Lockdown

JACKSON, Miss– In 2014, 34 babies were born to mothers who were doing hard time. News Mississippi investigates where those babies go next. 

The birth of a baby makes you think about nurseries, cute hats, and sleepless nights in those first few weeks.  The story is a little different when Mama has to head back to the pen after birth.

“In 2014 we had a total of 34 babies born while the inmates were incarcerated,” says Yvonne Barton, prenatal care nurse for those pregnant in jail.

If Mom’s going back to prison, the baby obviously isn’t coming with her. Barton says that there’s a plan in place well before the birth.

“At the first visit, they sign guardianship papers,” says Barton. The guardianship is signed over to whomever will pick up the baby at the hospital after the birth. When labor starts, that guardian is called.

“It’s usually a friend or family member.” Barton says she only remembers two times that a child was turned over to Department of Human Services because the family couldn’t take the baby. Those babies go into foster care.

The main hospital for inmate care is Central Mississippi Medical Center located in Jackson. Barton says if complicating circumstances come up during the pregnancy, the inmate will go to River Oaks or University of Mississippi Medical Center. According to the Mississippi Department of Corrections newsletter, CMMC provides weekly prenatal care while the women are in prison in the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility.

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