Canvas-Wrapped Book:
The images and text of this website are now available in a hardcover ($47), or softcover ($27) book from blurb.com -- if you are having trouble ordering, give the page a minute to load, if you continue to have trouble, please contact the photographer.

PBS Video:
KBTC is now streaming the documentary Purdy. The video features photos from this website.

National Report: The Women's Prison Association has released a national report on prison nurseries and community-based alternatives.

If your organization would like to use content or photographs from this website, please contact the photographer. Thanks!

Within a Prison Nursery

Women get pregnant. They give birth. They become mothers. Some women get pregnant and then become incarcerated. And then give birth and become mothers.

Since 2003, I have been spending time at the Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW) learning about incarcerated women. Their issues differ from those of incarcerated men: most minimum security women offenders are incarcerated for non-violent offenses related to substance abuse. Many of these women, though not all, have experienced traumatic events in childhood where a safety net was either not available or not utilized. One major issue differentiating women from men in prison is that most of the women who are mothers have been the primary caretakers of the children prior to incarceration. Significantly, the majority of women entering prison pregnant, even for relatively short prison sentences, are separated from their babies after giving birth. Or from the babies’ point of view, they are separated from their mother for a crime they did not commit at a critical time of development.

Prison nursery programs are few in our nation. To its credit, the WCCW created a Residential Parenting Program in 1999 allowing selected pregnant inmates with sentences less than thirty months to maintain custody of their babies after giving birth. The mother and baby pair share a room during her sentence, and have the support of volunteer doulas, inmate caregivers, and an Early Head Start program located on the prison grounds. Conditions for healthy maternal-infant attachment are available in a safe, enriched and protective environment: protective custody