Lawmaker looks at accommodations for pregnant criminals

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SANTA FE (KRQE) – A state lawmaker known for being tough on crime wants to cut certain criminals a break.

Sen. Lisa Torraco thinks judges and prisons should go easy on pregnant inmates and set them free to have and raise their babies. Under her bill, the Albuquerque attorney asks for more accommodations for those women at a time when she thinks the state needs to save money.

“At a time when we need money for early childhood education, we shouldn’t be spending money on a lot of medical expenses when we don’t have to and this is good for everybody, I hope,” Torraco said. “Pro family, fiscally conservative.”

Torraco said the average birth inside the Department of Corrections costs the state $35,000. By getting those women out of prison, she said it would mean more money saved.

Her bill would also allow the court to consider the fact that a woman is pregnant at the time of her sentencing.

She said she would like to see non-violent offenders be able to stay out of jail to birth and raise that child. If sentenced, though, the mother could be given a furlough to be with the baby and serve out the sentence with an ankle monitor.

According to the Department of Corrections, there are currently 11 pregnant women locked up.

Torraco said being with the child will help that child develop a bond and keep them out of trouble later in life.

Not everyone is sold on the idea.

“They are the reason that they are in there, they should do the time,” one man told KRQE News 13. “It’s their fault that they are in there whether they are pregnant or not, that is the choice that they have made.”

The Department of Corrections told News 13 the fastest growing population in the system is women.

Right now, inmates go to the hospital to give birth and then go back to prison when they’re ready while the baby goes to a family member or the state

The bill also calls for jails and prisons to accommodate new mothers who want to breast feed and provide proper storage for their breast milk so it can be sent to their babies.

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