Prison makes changes for mothers

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LINCOLN, Ill. (WCIA) — The Logan Correctional Center has made changes to make sure expectant and new mothers get the chance to bond with their babies. Women at the prison have seen some struggles when it comes to being a mother behind bars.

“We understood the importance of allowing that practice in the facility. We understood it was gender-responsive,” Warden Glen Austin says.

Now he and his staff are taking steps to help them out. 

“It’s our goal as a facility and as a department to make genuine efforts to decrease the potential for recidivation,” Austin explains.

When a former inmate was denied the opportunity to nurse her baby during a visit, she pointed out the flaw in policy. Understanding the importance of that bonding time, they made a space available, recruiting help from others in the facility.

“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to give back in some sort of way. I can’t put into words how beautiful it will be for these women to have that moment of nurturing with their child,” Tracy Hermann explains.

But that’s just one change they made for pregnant women. They’ve also designated a place for pregnant women to live safely.

“Before the pregnancy wing was established, we had women coming into the prison system and they were being dispersed throughout the population with the rest of the offenders,” Austin says.

Patrisha O’Bryant is an inmate at the prison.

“Offenders where they push, they show to get to the phone and they have different charges, violent charges.”

Patrisha O’Bryant has lived in the wing since it opened in February. She says not only has this space given her peace of mind knowing while she was pregnant her baby was safe, but also a support system.

“We’ve grown from not knowing anything about each other to knowing almost everything about everybody,” O’Bryant says. “That’s a good thing about over here they accept you for who you are.”

With their help, she’s made changes for the better.

“The main goal is to get home to the kids to stay sober,” O’Bryant explains.

They say depending on the demand of use in the Nursing Nook they may need to expand. Right now there are 12 women in the pregnancy wing. Almost everything in the Nursing Nook and the pregnancy wing was donated from area businesses and prison employees.

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