WETUMPKA, Alabama (Good Medical) – Prisoners in an Alabama women's prison can now draw breast milk into nursing rooms for babies outside the prison walls.
The Alabama Prison Birth Project, a non-profit association, collaborated with Julia Tutwiler Prison to design lactation rooms and provide pumping equipment to mothers, Al.com reported.
The nonprofit works to improve the health of infants born to incarcerated women. Incarcerated mothers draw breast milk into the room and then label and store their milk in the freezer. Every week, a representative of the Alabama Prison Birth Project collects the milk and distributes it to the caretakers of each child.
State officials say the number of pregnant women in Tutwiler varies between 40 and 50 each year.
Women make up about 6% of the incarcerated population in Alabama.
"It's not something you can really be prepared for, you have to be separated from your baby," said inmate Latasha James. "(Watching them) taking the baby away from me was really difficult."
James entered Tutwiler Prison two weeks before the birth of his daughter in October, reported Al.com. The new mother spent three days with her baby before having to go to prison.
Tutwiler's program "helps me feel a little connected without being close to each other," James said.
Wendy Williams is Assistant Commissioner, Women's Services, Alabama Department of Corrections. Ms. Williams said she had begun to look into the possible reforms in Tutwiler's prisons after a 2014 Justice Department investigation that uncovered horrific conditions.
"Tutwiler has a history of sexual abuse and sexual harassment incarcerated among jailed staff," the report says. "Tutwiler's women fear universally for their safety."
The report revealed that Tutwiler staff had raped, beaten and sexually harassed women in prison and that these women were living under "a constant threat of sexual violence".