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Commentary: A Warden's Perspective On Prison Moms

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ESSENCE, the Grio, and NBC's Mara Schiavocampo look at a growing number of prison nursery programs and explore whether female inmates should be allowed to raise their children while doing time. Here, the Warden of the Ohio Reformatory for Women, Ginine Trim, chimes in on the debate. Ginine Trim was appointed Warden of the Ohio Reformatory for Women in June 2009. The Reformatory is the largest female prison in Ohio, housing more than 2600 offenders and has every level of security from minimum to death row. She and her program were profiled in Mara Schiavocampo Reports: Mothers Behind Bars.   The Ohio Reformatory for Women's Achieving Baby Care Success (ABC's) Nursery Program opened in June 2001. The nursery program is a holistic re-entry program which focuses on both the mother and the child, providing a safe and nurturing environment. Since its inception, it has been a controversial topic both inside and outside of the prison. We hear all the time "babies in a prison?!" The program has the capacity for 20 mothers and 21 babies. In order to be eligible for the program, offenders must meet the following criteria: 1) she is pregnant at the time she delivered into the facility's custody; 2) she gives birth while in the custody of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction; 3) she is 18 years or older; 4) she has never been convicted of a violent crime or any type of child abuse or child endangering; 5) she is subject to a sentence of imprisonment of not more than 18 months; 6) she must have a security status of minimum or medium; 7) she and her child meet established medical and mental health criteria, and 8) she is the legal custodian of the child. The program curriculum encompasses content that promotes individual wellness, sound child development, child health, and family structures. During the mother's incarceration, she is provided resources such as programming and training that will teach her basic and advanced parenting skills. The offenders are also partnered with community resources affording the opportunity for a smooth transition as she prepares for release. I strongly believe that it is a short term investment which will yield a much larger dividend for our society. Allowing mothers and their infants the ability to stay together during the mother's incarceration increases the likelihood that she will have a successful re-entry back into her community. As a society, we can pay now on the front end, by allowing this type of program to exist, or a higher cost on the back end, which means we will have a child in the foster care system and a mother in the penal system. Having a nursery program at the Ohio Reformatory for Women helps all vested parties (facility staff and prisoners) to see the impact of incarceration and the residual negative effect it has on families. I cannot visit the nursery program and not be reminded we have a greater responsibility for a human being who did not have a choice: the infant. Ginine Trim was appointed Warden of the Ohio Reformatory for Women in June 2009. The Reformatory is the largest female prison in Ohio, housing more than 2600 offenders and has every level of security from minimum to death row. She and her program were profiled in Mara Schiavocampo Reports: Mothers Behind Bars The Ohio Reformatory for Women's Achieving Baby Care Success (ABC's) Nursery Program opened in June 2001. The nursery program is a holistic re-entry program which focuses on both the mother and the child, providing a safe and nurturing environment. Since its inception, it has been a controversial topic both inside and outside of the prison. We hear all the time "babies in a prison?!" The program has the capacity for 20 mothers and 21 babies. In order to be eligible for the program, offenders must meet the following criteria: 1) she is pregnant at the time she delivered into the facility's custody; 2) she gives birth while in the custody of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction; 3) she is 18 years or older; 4) she has never been convicted of a violent crime or any type of child abuse or child endangering; 5) she is subject to a sentence of imprisonment of not more than 18 months; 6) she must have a security status of minimum or medium; 7) she and her child meet established medical and mental health criteria, and 8) she is the legal custodian of the child. The program curriculum encompasses content that promotes individual wellness, sound child development, child health, and family structures. During the mother's incarceration, she is provided resources such as programming and training that will teach her basic and advanced parenting skills. The offenders are also partnered with community resources affording the opportunity for a smooth transition as she prepares for release. I strongly believe that it is a short term investment which will yield a much larger dividend for our society. Allowing mothers and their infants the ability to stay together during the mother's incarceration increases the likelihood that she will have a successful re-entry back into her community. As a society, we can pay now on the front end, by allowing this type of program to exist, or a higher cost on the back end, which means we will have a child in the foster care system and a mother in the penal system. Having a nursery program at the Ohio Reformatory for Women helps all vested parties (facility staff and prisoners) to see the impact of incarceration and the residual negative effect it has on families. I cannot visit the nursery program and not be reminded we have a greater responsibility for a human being who did not have a choice: the infant. Tune in to see more about this story on NBC Nightly News, MSNBC and thegrio.com. Read more:

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