Missouri proposal allows babies to be with some mothers in prison

((Source: KFVS/Jordin Wyatt))
Published: Mar. 2, 2022 at 6:27 PM CST
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KY3) - A proposal in the Missouri House of Representatives would allow for some mothers to keep their babies while they are in prison.

”Whenever you’re doing a program like this, the health and welfare of the child are the first consideration. And so you want model prisoners that are going to be able to care for those children in an exemplary way, and then leave prison with them,” said State Representative Curtis Trent of Springfield.

The cost of this program is estimated at about $1 million, but State Representative Bruce Degroot tells me you have to think about a lot of different aspects, including what it would cost to put a child in foster care.

”It costs $17,000 a year right now to send a baby from prison to foster care. So not only is there those initial savings but also all the people that aren’t coming back to prison. It’s expensive to house a woman inmate, and it does away with that cost. Undeniable, this is going to turn into a long, long-term fiscal benefit state of Missouri,” said State Representative Degroot.

At first State Rep. Trent, who co-sponsored the bill, said he had some reservations.

”At first glance, you’re putting children into the prison system. So you have lots of questions about, you know, what is in the best interest of the child how it worked, logistically. As we went through those kinds of issues, it became very apparent that this is an extremely beneficial program for women and children,” said State Rep. Trent.

Other states such as Illinois and Indiana have implemented these programs. They have noticed a lot of the child needs are donated by outside sources.

”We found that the vast majority or sometimes even an excess of the amount required in terms of formula and diapers and, and other necessities that a child needs are donated by third parties to the program,” said State Rep. Trent.

The bill has been will head to the State Senate. It did get bipartisan support.

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