Giving birth while Incarcerated

I didn’t know that tears could fall out of eyes three at a time. One from the center and one from each side, times two eyes, is six tears falling.

Falling on the formica table, falling on the prison-issue denim jacket, falling on the orange pants worn by those awaiting sentencing, falling on the long graceful hands, falling on the clenched paper towel.

The baby is four days old. The mother is back in jail. It will be ten more days before mother and child have their first Visiting Room encounter.

Someone asked me what it’s like for incarcerated women to be separated from their babies. I wonder why she asked – was she hoping that somehow these women are tougher, or colder, or used to such things? Was she hoping that, with advance notice, a mother could prepare herself for handing her baby over to a relative or a DCF worker?

The tears fall six or seven at a time.

More than 1% of Americans are incarcerated right now, many for nonviolent, victimless crimes like drug offenses or  sex work. 40,ooo pregnant Americans are in jail right now.  Learn more about the issues, and how to serve these women, here.

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