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"In the mid-1990s, I heard about the beginnings of this nursery idea through the grapevine, and I only live 10 minutes away from the state prison," Hanna-Truscott told Refinery29 about how she found this project. "In about 2003, I asked if I could do a photography project on the prison nursery, and I was welcomed in….I wanted to do it for a year before I had the courage to send a letter and ask for permission."
Strolling with baby in the minimum security yard.
Despite the successes of the programme at Washington Corrections Centre, Hanna-Truscott says she still encounters skepticism. "With all the research that has been done supporting concepts relating to prison nurseries, people still make harsh judgments," she told Refinery29. "They’ll say, 'Babies don’t belong in prisons,' just point-blank. But, no. Babies belong with their mothers, in a safe, protective environment. So I think some people miss the point, and they just hear the notion of this, of 'babies in prisons.'"
Mandi and Gabriel (3 days old).
"Prison systems have sort of been built around the incarceration of men, and, typically, women are the caretakers of the family," she said. Women are the fastest-growing part of the U.S. prison population. "The explosion of the number of women that are becoming incarcerated is having a huge effect on pregnant women and families."
Samantha and Gabriel (1 year old).
"Even though my project is pretty much limited to pregnant women and mothers of the toddlers, it’s a select population that I feel like really important things are happening at this critical time of development — for babies, especially," Hanna-Truscott said.
Stacy (38 weeks' pregnant).