south dakota women's prison

mother infant programs

The majority of incarcerated women have children and most of the inmate-mothers regain the responsibility for the care and support of their children upon their release from prison. The enforced separation of the mother and child usually creates distress for both the child and the parent. Because of the importance in the parent-child bond, the South Dakota Department of Corrections has several programs in place to help the bond between female inmates and their children.

The Department of Corrections offers a parenting class to inmates. The class utilizes the Boys Town Common Sense parenting curriculum that deals with child behaviors from age 0-18 and TOTS or Bright Start Parenting curriculum for children ages 0-3. The TOTS curriculum is designed to help parents understand their child's needs and development.

A female inmate who comes into the prison system pregnant may be eligible to participate in the Mother-Infant program. In this program, the inmate who gives birth while incarcerated is allowed to keep the child at the South Dakota Women's Prison for up to 30 days. In order to participate, inmates must have first completed a parenting class. The infant and mother are housed in an area away from the general prison population. Permanent placement options are evaluated for the baby with family and the Department of Social Services.

 

The Parent and Children Together (P.A.C.T.) program at the South Dakota Women’s Prison is an extended visitation program available for inmate mothers and their children. The primary goal of the P.A.C.T. program is to enable the incarcerated mother to have her minor children with her in prison for a weekend visit once each month, in addition to the regular visiting hours. The P.A.C.T. visits are intended to alleviate some of the familial stress associated with the mother’s incarceration, create a better understanding of the parent role, and provide the opportunity of the inmate mother to maintain some direct responsibility for the care of her children.
The majority of incarcerated women have children and most of the inmate-mothers regain the responsibility for the care and support of their children upon their release from prison. The enforced separation of the mother and child usually creates distress for both the child and the parent. The P.A.C.T. visits at the South Dakota Women’s Prison help alleviate some of the stress associated with the mother’s incarceration and encourage the continuation of the mother-child bond.

Inmates must apply for a P.A.C.T. visit and have their application approved by the P.A.C.T. coordinator in advance of the visit. A maximum of two children per weekend is allowed. P.A.C.T. weekends are usually the third weekend of the month, unless a holiday falls on that weekend.

Inmates must reach a classification status of High Medium or lower to participate in the P.A.C.T. program. Inmates who are classified as Maximum security status, on Room Restriction or in Administrative or Disciplinary Detention are not eligible for the P.A.C.T. program. High Medium inmates may only participate in the P.A.C.T. program for a 12-hour period during the day. High Medium inmates are not allowed to have overnight stays with their children.

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Exterior view of the PACT house. Inside the dayroom of the PACT house.
Exterior of the PACT house. Inside the dayroom of the PACT house.

 

The Mothers Making Memories program began in 1999. The Pierre Area Reading Council (PARC) assists inmates in reading books to their children onto audio tape. The books and tapes are then sent to the inmate's child/children so that the child can either read along or simply hear their mother read to them in an effort to reinforce the parent/child relationship. The PARC picks up the cost of the tapes, books and postage for the infant children.

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Mother record's herself reading a book, so her children can later listen to her read. Mother records herself reading a book for her children to later listen to her read.
Mothers record themselves reading books for their children to listen at home.