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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis-ISU Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Criminal Justice Sciences

First Advisor

Dawn Beichner


The number of women being sentenced to prison has risen sharply over the last 30 years. This increase has resulted in corrections administrators incorporating gender-specific programming in some institutions. Prison nursery programs have been a reemerging trend within correctional facilities. Twelve state currently have a nursery unit within the correctional facility. The Moms and Babies Program at the Decatur Correctional Center in Decatur, Illinois keeps incarcerated mother and their newborn infants together in an environment in which the mothers can reside with and care for their babies, while serving out their sentence. This program provides an opportunity for the female offender to participate in holistic programming for her and her infant and goes on to be proactive in meeting the needs of both the mother and child following release and transitioning back into the free community.

This study examined women's perspective of nursery program, including what parts of the program were most helpful and what aspects were most effective in assisting them with their release and re-entry back into society. The study also examined former nursery program participants' recommendations for future program expansion or enhancement. The results of the study indicated importance of mother/child bonding, programming, staff support and program structure, as well as the importance of a continuum of services during re-entry. It is important that the correctional facilities examine and review current prison nursery programs while providing holistic, gender specific programming for the incarcerated mother.

KEYWORDS: Female offender, gender-specific programming, prison nursery program.


Imported from ProQuest Dexheimer_ilstu_0092N_10626.pdf


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