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Babies behind bars: First Indiana prison nursery opens today

Here is an interesting article from the Star today:

Call it the Department of Correction's version of day care.

The Wee One’s Nursery officially will open today as a special wing of the Indiana Women’s Prison on the Near Eastside. The nursery is billed as the first facility in the state to permit nonviolent offenders to reside with their infants.

A grand opening will occur at 10 a.m. at IWP, 401 N. Randolph St.

Indiana is one of just six states to have a prison nursery program, said Doug Garrison, spokesman for the Department of Correction, in a news release.

The program was funded by grants from the Women’s Fund for Central Indiana (an arm of the philanthropic Central Indiana Community Foundation) and the Indiana State Department of Health.

In a prepared statement, Ind. Lt. Governor Becky Skillman said the program "gives new mothers the opportunity to form a critical bond with their child in the first months of life."

The nursery program will require women to participate in several parenting classes, a service that will teach them the responsibility of motherhood, she said.

Participating mothers are pregnant women scheduled to deliver while incarcerated and who will be released less than 18 months after delivery.

The mothers agree to participate in additional child-related programming, such as child development and child needs, and are provided opportunities to develop their parenting skills and strengthen the bond with their infant children. The participants live with "offender nannies" in a unit staffed with correctional officers who have received additional training in child safety.

The talkback section of the Indystar dealing with this article had people very much against this idea, but what do all of you think?  My 2 cents are that maybe if these mothers get to spend time with their kids and realize what they will be missing if they get sent back to prison, then maybe they will clean up their ways and not do anything to be sent back to prison.  More importantly, since a lot of other programs have failed, I think we have nothing to lose by trying.  Your thoughts?

Posted by


Everyone within the DOC knows that Donahue is a ruthless, heartless, evil, bigoted man. His ego is all he knows are cares about. He knows nothing about juvenile or female programs and has a serious case of prison mentality......stuff them and cuff them.....all offenders are worthless......I as as I say.........make me look are my pawn.
The problem we have here is that most people do not care about state employees, much less DOC employees, and much less again the offenders. Consequently bringing attention to Donahues worthless leadership outside the DOC is hard to do. People just won't decide to vote for or against Daniels based on DOC outcry. Donahue is a vile man who should be fired. We can only hope that he steps in a hole so deep and so wrong, at some point, that even the gov won't ignore. Until Donahue is a screaming threat to his re-election will mitch address. It is very sad that a man who has hurt so many people, programs and effieciencies in the DOC is allowed to get away with such wrong doing. Donahue is one loathed man.

J David Donahue is the biggest problem that Mitch Daniels has and the one liability that can cost the gov a chance at re election due to the egomaniac both of them are. Neither one will admit to failure or to not being the supreme know it all. Donahue has destroyed the Department of Corrections and put every citizen in Indiana at risk. All these wonderful programs are merely a shadow of something that has not been researched and proven effective but instead has been falsified and made to appear they are something of value to the camera and on paper. Statistics can be made to reflect whatever a person wants them to. MMM and JDD will never release any bad statistics about the DOC unless it serves their own self preserving needs. Bogus, fraudulent, and deceptive. Purely evil in every facet, these men are self serving, and the last thing they have on their minds is anything past the tip of their own noses. That as far as they see or think about anything. Only what makes them look good to others. Claiming that they are responsible for anything good and refusing to admit to responsibility for anything negative. They claim all the glory for things that they had absolutely nothing to do with at all. More and more people are catching on to these falsehoods that they get all the publicity for makes it clear they are not to be trusted nor should they remain a part of the Indiana government. Voters must step up to the plate in November and vote them out and send a message to other politicians in this state that Indiana and the citizens are priority number one as a whole and not just political glory for screwing over us. Yes the budget has been cut and in the process many good people have been cut and funding for all these programs have dried up. Now you are left with overworked, understaffed, and underfunded and in DOC no funds for programs that are desparetly needed to improve the state of Indiana and help the people who need it most.
Do not call these babies little savages or any other demeaning name because these babies are not guilty of anything. They were born to be loved and nurtured and not be a pawn in a vicious political game being played by Donahue who wants to be America's number one person in corrections. He has not got what it takes because he has no emotions or heart for people and what truely is best for people. He has turned the DOC into a place that is ruled with threats and intimidation and fraught with danger. He must be stopped instead of being protected by Daniels. Both Daniels and Donahue will have to live with their failures someday and then the reputation or legacy will be one that is very tarnished by all the damaged lives they have left in their wake.

It is true; the only way to make the IDOC work again is to rid Indiana of Mitch Daniels so that J. David Donahue is also gone.

I agree that it would be a great program if implemented properly. However, without proper guidance, I question how long it will survive. IMO, if properly implemented, the women would develop skills necessary to not only care for their child but also gain educational skills while developing the ability to live constructively. By pushing education as part of the program and requiring participants to be enrolled in either college courses, or for those without a high school diploma, GED classes, it would give the women an opportunity for a new and different start. I'm sure there are religious organizations that would come in and help care for the women's child while she attended classes. Introduce different programs aiding these women, as well as the other offenders, in applying to different colleges 6 months before their release. I would think that there would be organizations willing to fund the cost of college applications for these women. I believe the possibilities are endless in how different programs could be integrated into this one and be successful. By teaching the women that there is more to life than just caring for children, we would end up with smarter, stronger, and more independent women. The sad part is that our culture still sees women as inferior. It's 2008, and we finally MIGHT have a woman who gets nominated by the Democratic party. It has been hundreds of years since our government was founded by the Fathers, and we just now MIGHT have a woman nominee. Sadly, women are still oppressed and made to feel less than. Anyway, the concept of bonding the mothers and children is great. The idea that this is the answer to lowering the recidivism rate of women is absurd.

It would be a great idea if it were a real program and not a JDD Program. Every program currently in existence in the DOC is a JDD program - good on paper only. No substance, no value to the offenders and no lasting value to any of the participants. The Indiana Department of Correction is not about rehabilitation of the offenders, it is about making J. David Donahue look good on paper. You can them twist the stats so he can sell his programs. We all know it. Look around at what is going on in the facilities and that becomes as clear as crystal. The mission of the Dept. is to make the Commissioner look good. An impossible task, and one he does not seem to understand can not be delivered, yet he stills demands shoddily implemented programs that he thinks will make him look good. It's all about HIM.

The women and babies at the prison will suffer in the long run because of his inability to do anything right. Another example of incompetence at its finest. This program will be no different than any other program he has implemented in the name of "best practices".

He has ruined the DOC and that is why it is our responsibility to vote MMM out of office and begin the slow and painful job of rebuilding each and every program, division, department and facility.

I am thoroughly shocked to learn about the changes at IWP. As I have said before, I have no knowledge of what goes on internally with the IDOC, the only knowledge I have is from different types of media. This very much proves what the media can and does do on a regular basis. We are constantly fed news of negative and horrible things. While we tend hear the negative news as background noise, we tune in and listen when a positive story is released, due to the fact our brains respond to, and crave different stimuli. By controlling what we hear and when we hear it, our minds, by genetic function, respond in a manner that is very beneficial to the person being associated with good. People simply believe, "oh, he cares about the women and their children, he must be a good moral man. I think I will vote for him next election". Indiana is still a very conservative state. Whether we like it or not, most people at the polls will vote for the rich conservative who believes in the idea that man-woman-child is what society should be. Thus the conservatism continues. The definition of Conservatism; "To protect from loss and harm" hits it right on the money. They use the poor and unfortunate in order to gain status, once they gain that status they for the most part are protected and can sit back dreaming up other ways to make themselves look even better. It's not about the average person to them. However, I believe that even one person can impact lives. Dana Blank was a wonderful woman. During a period in my life, after being taken away from everything familiar and placed in a place to fend for myself, had extreme patience for me when I acted in ways which I otherwise never would have acted. It is very disturbing to find out that she was pushed away from what she believed in most, by Donahue. It proves that he is extremely narrow minded and insecure as to feel threatened by her to the point that he would make such serious changes. It is too bad that the people being affected most by his decisions are the people that need the help the most.

Each and every word of these posts NEED to be communicated to your representatives in the state legislature. Govenor Daniels, IF he survives the tidal wave of disgust in November, MUST be pressured to GET RID OF commissioner J. David Donahue.

And hopefully Mitch Daniels will be defeated in November, but the new Democratic governor MUST understand that the DOC will need dramatic reconstruction, and this must be a necessary emphasis of their administration.

DOC isn't just about locking criminals up. It is about PUBLIC SAFETY. Politicians talk a lot about public safety, and they think that stops with cops on the street.

Please write to your legislators.

The programs at WP have been destroyed and thrown out. The one person who had total and I do mean total commitment to IWP offender programs was former Supt. Dana Blank. She gave every ounce of her being to WP. Worked endless hours and believed in rehabilitation. Donahue managed to harass her, remove her from the position of Supt. He appointed her to postion of Director of Female Programs. He then shuffled her from this responsibility to that responsibility, refused to allow her contact with WP , and refused to allow her to have input in female programing. All with the her new "title" of Director of Female Programs. He wanted her out of the system in the worse way. Why did he want her out. Because Dana is very strong willed, very determined, very passionate, very in charge ,and not easily swayed. Traits Donahue does not like in anyone much less in a women. But the truth is that what Dana did was successful.......very successful.....very effective.....very creative.....therpeutic. WP ran like clock work. It was not a typical prison environment (something else Donahue did not like)
After many months of humiliation and trying to force Dana to retire Donahue succeeded in moving her out. She is now out on ligitimate disability. Something she never would have applied for if it was not for Donahue. She would have continued to put out twelve hour work days, fought for effective programs and given every ounce of her being to running a successful DOC program. In the end Donahue, without conscience, managed to emotionally destroy a very vibrant and effective leader. Did he show her who is in charge? Not really. The taxpayers are now paying a bundle for her to be out on full disability pay. Again something that she is rightfully eligible for but would have never applied for if the man would have just let her do her thing. He once said about Dana that she runs an outstanding program. However, it had entirely too too much icing on the cake for him.
Since Dana has left, the education program, treatment programs and most all things of value have gone defunct at WP. Dana could have run the new baby program. But the way it has been implemnted by present administartion ....give me a break. It is a joke. A media experience. A farce. This program, as is, will make the women no better parents. Come on think about it...... we have babies in prison with mothers who don't know how to cope , have no new skills, and or not learning how to live a productive life outside the prison walls. The program does not mirror the relaities of the real world that they will be returning too. They are only learnig how to raise a baby in a prison environment. Wothless, possibly detrimental.
The cycle will not be broken. The babies will grow up and go to juvenile facilites. Another area of the department that Donahue has destroyed.

Perfect, perfect points made.

16/10:47, I agree with you in that education, substance abuse, and vocational training should be priority in dealing with the women at IWP. You are correct in saying that, "all the baby bonding in the world is not going to help her if she has no means of supporting herself once released." Without access to education and training, most of these women commit the same offenses, not because they are horrible people, I believe, but as a means of survival. By allowing them to bond with, and then have custody of their child upon release, without the necessary means to support themselves, there is potential that the child will be placed in dangerous situations due to the mother's bad decision making skills. Nancy Grace covered a recent story last night on a 2 year old child who was forced to inhale marijuana smoke. How many offenders, upon release, return to drug-ridden areas because they do not have the means to go elsewhere. Where would their child be going? IMHO, the children's program that was implemented by Dana Blank, during her term at the women's prison, was efficient and successful. It allowed the women sufficient bonding time with their child, yet, still allowed the women to focus on themselves. I believe someone must first know how to care for themselves before handling the responsibility of a child. In response to 6:36, as a former offender at IWP, I also agree that the program will likely end up unfunded and is being implemented in order to bring glory to the current administration. As someone with no access to see firsthand what is or is not being implemented, I must base all of my opinions about the IDOC upon what is presented to me by the media. We all know the media can be very deceitful. It is quite possible, again IMO, that it is being used, not to gather funding or support for this program, but to give glory to Indiana's political figures. I am not saying that nobody cares about these women and their children, as there are people in the administration that I believe have offenders best interests at heart. I am simply suggesting that Indiana's current political state lends to greedy conservatives who love the flash of a camera, and that often times, what really matters is forgotten when their moment of glory is past.

11:10, you are correct that these women have to be within 18 months of release in order to participate and that may be limiting the numbers right now. But as a former employee of the once-respected IWP, I can also guess that there are lots of other criteria that will be keeping women out..such as being conduct-free for a certain period of time is necessary, and probably will be kicked out of the program for any kind of conduct violation. This is how the new administration teaches and trains. And as I understand, most of the non-violent women getting close to release are going to be going through Madison, so having this program at IWP doesn't seem to make sense anyway.

I am glad that you see some sense in the basic idea, it could be a good thing. But IWP and DOC staff will tell you without looking anymore that this is a poorly planned media moment program for the DOC's benefit, not the women.

only 2 are participating because apparently there are only 2 who qualify--did you see that they have to be released within 18 months to participate? it seems to me to be a pretty progressive idea--these women learn how to be mothers (where if they weren't locked up they might not have the chance) and possibly keep their kids from going the same route. i say give it a try. it sure can't hurt to have a few less kids in jail.

There are 400 women at IWP and just 2 (that's right, just 2) are participating in the Baby Program. The other 398 have nothing to do because the education department is closed and there is no vocational training to speak of. You really want offenders to not return to prison, then provide them with training that will give them skills to get jobs when they are released. The mom holding the baby on Fox 59 who said she wrote a bad check...all the baby bonding in the world is not going to help her if she has no means of supporting herself once released. She will start doing again what she already knows how to do..write a bad check. She will violate her parole again and guess who will be bonding with that baby, the taxpayer, as it becomes another child lost in the system. Effectively train the mom in a skill that is marketable and teach her how to make good choices in partners and you are more likely to not see her in prison again than if you let her "play mom behind bars."

Well said.

To quote an Israeli General who when asked how they managed to utterly defeat an Egyptian force who had an overwhelming numerical advantage in the Seven Days War. This crusty old general said that the Egyptians prepared for the parade ground while we prepared for battle. That in a nutshell is what the DOC is doing, preparing for the parade grounds with all the ineffective programs and pretty photo ops and press releases. Meanwhile, all the basic security practices are neglected which causes all the escapes, deaths, and distubances around the state. While we are on the parade grounds, the offenders are still preparing for battle.

I applaud your progressive thinking and optimism, but you are being deceived by the IDOC.

This program at IWP is, like all the others introduced by commissioner J. David Donahue, is a farce. This is eye candy. As a former employee of the Women's Prison, I can tell you that real and meaningful rehabilitative programs have been eliminated, and have been replaced by short-term "programs" like this that will disolve into unfunded, un-resourced chaos as soon as the cameras and press leave the grounds. Yes it is wonderful that these women and children will have an opportunity to bond, however without education, substance abuse treatment, and vocational skills training, the liklihood that these women will return to criminal activity after their release is quite high. Then they will be returned to prison, and their children will be where?

The IDOC has lost it's mission.

I think thats a good think done by Government of India or who ever, they have done a good job opening a nursery of the children in the prison.

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