Jayla Currie celebrating her son’s his first birthday in prison isn’t the type of thing you hear about everyday. For a 23-year-old woman who’s serving 10 months at Indiana Women’s Prison on drug charges, she’s grateful to be one of the few prisoners who can spend quality time with her child. Jayden’s first birthday was March 27 in a guarded room with donated gifts and a sheet cake for prisoner staffers.
Currie is signed up with the Wee Ones Nursery Program, Yahoo! Parenting reports. It’s a “unique program” that began in 2008 in which incarcerated mothers share their rooms with their babies. In order to be eligible, the mom must have no more than 30 months left of their prison sentence remaining after their due date. The program was started by an Ohio prison, which is working to find better options for pregnant inmates.
In a program like this, Jayla Currie is able to spend time with her son in prison for not just birthdays, but other important milestones he’ll reach.
“We don’t sleep on metal bunkbeds and weactually have furniture. There’s a bed, crib, dresser, closet, and a chair in our room. They try to make it as homey as possible for the babies.”
Obviously, a cell wouldn’t be the ideal place to put babies together with their mothers.
According to The Sentencing Project, one in 25 women in state prisons are pregnant, and for federal prisons, it’s one in 33. And Wee Ones, modeled after a similar program in Ohio, is paving the way by aiming to provide a better solution for pregnant inmates.
Other inmates who don’t have a violent criminal past can act as “nannies” in prison for mothers who are doing time with their babies.
In instances like Currie, a study by the University of Indianapolis in 2013 determined that mothers in the Wee Ones program were more likely to maintain custody of their children after their release and not get in trouble with the law again. There was an 86 percent success rate of convicted mothers keeping their children versus 58 percent. They were also more likely to have caregiver responsibilities at a 92 percent rate over the typical 75 percent rate.
Is this motivation for more prisons to start a Wee Ones program like Ohio and Indiana? Studies have shown that female prisoners bonding with their babies in prison with a limited time left to serve seems to help them more than if they hadn’t been involved from the beginning.
Jayla Currie’s son having a prison birthday celebration sounds unorthodox considering what it means to be an inmate. Some institutions, however, keep in mind the valuable bond a mother and baby share.
[Photo Credit: Jayla Currie via Daily Mail]