Can You Keep A Baby Behind Bars In New York State?
This only happens to a small portion of people, and it happened to one person in Western New York.
On average, there are approximately 58,000 pregnant women who get booked into jails and/or prisons every year, according to the research performed by the Pregnancy in Prison Statistics (PIPS) Project. Out of those 58,000, there are a few thousand that birth, and one of those rare instances just happened at the Niagara County Jail.
According to News 4, an inmate at the Niagara County Jail gave birth on Saturday. Sheriff Michael Filicetti confirmed the baby news, saying that the mother and her baby boy are both healthy and they are receiving care at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital.
Before making her way to the hospital, the medical staff at the jail were able to help the woman as she unexpectedly gave birth a few weeks before the scheduled due date.
But you may be wondering….what happens next? Does this leave a baby behind bars?
Nationally, 4% of the women entering prison, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, are pregnant, so there are times where jails and prisons run into the situation where a baby is born behind bars.
Every year, there are approximately 2,000 babies born to incarcerated women, according to the Journal of Ethics, so what is being done for those babies after they are born?
In some states, they will allow the baby to stay with the mother until he or she is about 18 months old, even if the mother is still in jail. In Washington State, children will stay in the prison until they are about three years old, according to one report.
However, New York State is a little different. According to state law, New York requires jails to bring mothers to hospitals when giving birth. However, the Sheriff’s office said because the birth came so quickly, the woman was not able to be taken to the hospital in time.
A lot of places have prison nurseries available, including in Westchester County, New York, though this can be emotionally jolting for the child once it is time for them to receive care from an alternative guardian while mom continues her term.
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"The number of unusual incidents has increased 132% from 5,980 in 2011 to 13,870 in 2020. These higher incident numbers were largely due to increases in assaults on incarcerated individuals (+81%), assaults on staff (+86%), contraband (+130%), disruptive behavior (+372%), and staff use of weapons (+1,035%)."In 2020, 1,836 weapons used to cut or stab, including ice picks, razor blades, can lids and shanks were discovered in state prisons around New York.