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IDOC "Moms and Babies" Celebrates 5th Anniversary

DECATUR - March 28, 2012 - The Illinois Department of Corrections will celebrate the fifth year of its successful "Moms and Babies" Program on March 28th, 2012 at the Decatur Correctional Center. This program allows offenders to keep their babies while incarcerated after giving birth. The program has a zero recidivism rate meaning none of the offenders who have been part of this program have returned to prison on new charges.

Giving the mother and child the ability to bond, teaching mothers parenting skills in a supportive environment and working on how to overcome obstacles that offenders may encounter upon release, are just a few of the goals of the program. Studies show that success in accomplishing these objectives leads to the mother's successful re-integration into society and results in lower recidivism rates.

"The Moms and Babies Program is an innovative program that helps IDOC fulfill its mission of helping offenders successfully reintegrate back into society after their release," said Illinois Department of Corrections Director S.A. Godinez. "Through the Moms and Babies Program, mothers work to create strong and healthy bonds with their babies, learn good parenting skills, and work on addressing their own problems.  The result is good mothers who help support their families and don't come back to prison."

"IDOC developed the Moms and Babies Program based upon academic research concluding that prison-based nursery programs reduce recidivism among participating mothers," said IDOC Chief of Program and Support Services Debbie Denning. "Lower recidivism has also been the experience for the IDOC Moms and Babies Program, as none of the mothers have been returned to IDOC with a new sentence.  This is a significant outcome, especially since the program is budget neutral."

Since its launch in 2007, the program has served 44 mothers and 39 children. The Moms and Babies Program is a budget neutral program because of a unique network of community organizations, volunteers, and other state agencies that provide for the program-related needs of the mothers and their children.                                       

To be eligible for the program mothers must have a projected release date before the baby turns two years old. Pregnant women beginning their incarceration with the department are carefully screened for eligibility. Fathers are strongly encouraged to visit their children as often as possible and to participate in family programs along with the mother. IDOC also provides programs for incarcerated mothers at each of its female facilities designed to create and strengthen healthy relationships within the family structure.

IDOC is committed to operating a safe and secure prison system as well as enhancing prison-based treatment, prevention programs and the successful reentry of inmates into society which will lead to lowering recidivism rates.