Prisoners bonding with their children is beneficial

Published 4:36 am Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Free Press, Mankato

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

A more humanitarian, modern prison system in Minnesota would benefit society as a whole.

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The Walz administration and lawmakers are examining ways to improve conditions for prisoners, including allowing incarcerated women to have more contact with their children, including newborns. Nationally, 1 in 25 women in state prisons reported being pregnant when admitted, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Right now the Minnesota corrections system only allows a mother who is a state prisoner 36 hours with her newborn before they are separated. Lawmakers say they’re committed to working with the Department of Corrections to come up with alternative housing for pregnant women and mothers of young children, the Star Tribune reports. That should be tackled during the next legislative session.

You don’t have to be a psychologist or social worker to figure out that allowing mothers to bond with their children will not only help their mental health in prison but will increase the potential of a smooth transition once out of prison — both for the mothers and the children.

Helping prisoners become better parents is an important factor in making them contributors to a more stable society. Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell said that research indicates separations can have longstanding impacts.

Older children are allowed to visit their mothers at the Shakopee prison, but often transportation barriers keep that from happening. Legislation was proposed last session to help bridge that gap through a pilot project but didn’t pass.

Funding for such measures as well as housing that allows prisoners to bond with their children and increased education opportunities would have many benefits short and long term.

The more prepared prisoners are for the outside world, the better off society is.