Babies Born Behind Bars May Keep Mothers From Returning to Prison

Bedford is a rare women's prison that allows incarcerated moms to keep newborns.
3:00 | 02/24/14

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Transcript for Babies Born Behind Bars May Keep Mothers From Returning to Prison
Jeff the mcdougals future is online. Tomorrow she meets with the Parole Board what's at stake our very freedom. He's already served nine months in prison for stealing her sentence could keep -- locked up for three more years. It's very aircraft that it feels like they have. Your future at hand yes definitely it's not just her fate hanging in the balance if parole is denied her son Max might be taken away from her. Because -- he gets too old. You'll have to -- prison. Max is actually growing up behind -- -- -- Jacqueline is an inmate at the Bedford hills correctional -- For women in the works -- and one of the growing number of mothers raising their babies in prison. Consultant little boy. -- -- -- -- spent a year following them raising fundamental questions about the nature of crime and punishment. Is -- cruel to keep babies in prison and do inmates deserve to be with their kids while paying their debt to society. -- The vast majority of the 2000 or so inmates who give birth in American prisons are separated from their babies as depicted in this gripping scene from Orange is the new black. When a distraught new mother returns to herself child. But Bedford is one of just a handful of women's prisons that allow some incarcerated moms. To keep their newborns with them until the babies -- eighteen months old. Max is six months old and need help just standing. I see you yes nice -- -- -- you lane -- very important. Just seeing his little face every day and knowing that he's in. I have to take care of them is going to be big incentive from -- and there are people in our country who think well you committed a crime you don't deserve. Yet to be with your baby I would say just like they say -- -- I think it depends on the nature of their time. No one convicted of violent crimes arson or crimes involving children are allowed into the program that. But for those who are accepted they live in a separate -- apart from the general population. And make no mistake. This is still prison are very few personal freedoms no cell phone no jewelry or make up and just three photos a month of the baby. -- this is where you sleep yet. And -- their personal finance this cramped little prison cell is the only home Max has ever known -- -- well. -- what landed her here. Jacqueline got caught stealing silverware she says she needed the money to buy drugs. Contact. Everything else happening. Cocaine. And it's just making -- asked Jacqueline says she was clean and sober by the time she landed in prison. Which she was also pregnant. Apparently are 48 hours a man from UN labor for 48 hours -- college. Giving birth to Max in prison she says has been a blessing in disguise at times. -- taxed. And really see where -- had it. And it wasn't a solid start at the end of -- -- now I cannot think this -- my eyes. -- it's now a month later march and we returned for another visit. Beautician who comes every two weeks confirms -- progress. And within a cent below the expected time today and -- explain this time it. And his brain is growing nicely. The check -- also gives -- an opportunity to ask for parenting advice. -- -- I don't know I would I would hold on the table first. It's clear benefit for the inmates and surprisingly the baby is statistically more likely to thrive with moms. Even in prison. How does -- benefit of -- need to be raised behind bars. You know the babies aren't aware that -- behind bars they get excellent care of me are very well funded to the most funding gives -- baby trusts in the world and that they will be taking care of. Max and his mother had never spent a full day apart aside from her chores in the prison block she's a full time single parent. Bathing died during -- nursing. Which -- bonding for both mother and baby the mothers also get parenting classes this is where the babies come when their moms and program. Liz Hamilton runs the nursery program at Bedford. I can see people at home thinking. Well they have -- so good I mean I actually heard one of the prison guards say well I think it's take my baby to a doctor twice a month. In what way is being in. This environment punished punishment of course you -- the warm Fuzzy -- baby care. But you don't say a -- you know waking up early in the morning getting earlier Thorsten they don't have their freedom now they don't have -- -- and and they don't get to make all the choices they would make outside. All these services have a price tag roughly 24 thousand a year. But it turns out that is cheaper than the 30000 dollars a year -- can't -- -- mom winds up back in jail. If fat woman stays out of jail for five years thinking that saving. And you know it's keeping the child from Foster care system one study showed a third of moms who'd been separated from their babies wound -- back in prison. Compared to under 10% for those who were able to keep there's. As for Jack -- she gets to keep Max with her. That Parole Board meeting she was nervous about resulted in an early release date. If all goes well they'll get to walk out of prison together in the summer have the eleven month -- so we'll be out before as far as Brett say it doesn't always work. That way to Joyce Browning gave birth to these twins -- the same jail on the same day is Jacqueline and wanted to raise them herself. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- They think he but when the twins -- four months old. She says she got into an argument with -- prison guard on Christmas -- and her babies were abruptly sent home. Crazy it just happened so -- everything happened -- it was. Traumatized -- that Joyce was lucky to have the baby's father step up she says she spent the rest of her days in prison worrying about them. Business. -- You know I'll be saying. Is everything on my own case I heard it yes. I was not a -- even. Ask for Jacqueline it's now -- just seventeen days and counting before freedom. We returned to find Max walking like a champ but mom's a bundle of emotions. -- -- Never if could be home with a baby since I know early and take -- myself and -- would be. -- -- -- Her and then finally in the days he's been leaning on June -- freedom. Freedom -- Don T yes it and he Aaron we don't have the choice really to do. -- -- And -- there I have all the chasing. And more from what do I want to eat today. To McClellan again but then she's through the last portal into the final -- back to a fellow moms in the nursery worrying. Hundreds of well. And seed and -- after three months of being out in the real world we catch up with Chaplin and -- It was very heart the mind like -- to really. Dig grass. And being filled means being home and let real life is going to be like for me now. -- -- staying with her parents for now but Jacqueline has landed her first job and is determined to make her son is proud of her as she is of him. I just one award informal -- not. Sugar coating -- this is not going to be easy. -- starting from nothing and we'll. I'll get them -- and what are your hopes Indians for him. I just hope one day. He can learn from -- safe and -- -- O'Donnell wrote that I. For Nightline I'm juju Chang in upstate.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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