Parents behind bars: who pays the price?

It's a problem that local authorities tell us is only getting worse: Children and parents separated by the bars of a jail cell.

According to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice, 1 in 43 American children has a parent serving time.

Authorities say it's a problem that eats up a lot of tax payer dollars through funding all the departments it takes to take care of these children, not to mention the extra work for Sheriff's and their deputies. Of course, then there's the children who become innocent victims.

Heartland News talked to two mothers spending time in the Butler County Jail about mistakes they wish they could take back.

"I want to straighten up," said Brandy Beck. "If I could take it all back I would."

For now, as close as Brandy Beck will get to seeing her six children will be through pictures in her jail cell.

"I love my kids," said Beck. "I miss my kids every second of every day."

Her twin babies turn one just before Christmas.

"I missed their first crawl, I missed everything," said Beck. "I did this to myself."

Wanted by the law for drug and probation violations, Beck chose to run during her pregnancy. She avoided giving birth in a cell, but now she says she's paying the price.

"I was on probation for a sack of weed," said Beck. "They gave me a chance and I blew it. I took advantage of my life and they sentenced me to jail."

Brandy will see her kids again when she gets out in five months. However, that's not the case for another mother of three. She asks that we just call her Jamie. She says she lives with plenty of regrets.

"Oh lord, I would've gone to church and stayed in church," said Jamie. "I would've gone to all the activities I needed to go to. I would have grabbed every hand on the way."

Jamie just signed two of her kids over to foster care and potential adoption. She won't see them again until they turn 18.

"They parents did say I could contact them once I started to get better but I am not going to do that because it's not time yet. I'm still wearing orange," said Jamie.

Butler County Sheriff, Mark Dobbs says this is the hidden price of the drug problem. He says it's one that's costly for his department and for tax payers.

"There's no doubt about it," said Sheriff Dobbs. "There's a lot of money that's spent and there's a lot of extra care and services and agencies that have to get involved."

Sheriff Dobbs says almost every female inmate he deals with has child care issues.

"With the drug problem in America these days I don't see this going away," said Sheriff Dobbs.

As for Beck and Jamie, they hope to get clean and inspire other young mothers to do the same. They tell us they encourage all the young inmates to cherish their children, and get off the drugs.

"If I could touch one person and save one family unit or one child I would," said Jamie.

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