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Crime and Courts

Kansas Faces Jail Births Amid Increased Women Inmates

Neil Conway, flickr Creative Commons

Kansas jails are facing a rising likelihood of births behind bars amid a nationwide increase in women's incarceration.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Kansas Department of Corrections saw more than 45 babies delivered by women in its custody in the past four years. That comes as the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports the number of incarcerated women in the U.S. has been increasing at a rate 50 percent higher than men since 1980.

Eight states have nursery programs allowing new mothers to raise children while serving time. Columbia University researchers found mothers participating in such programs had lower recidivism rates.

But in Kansas, new mothers behind bars must give up their babies to the Department of Children and Families and can only see them on visitation days. The agency has recently been scrutinized for missing children.