Woman Prisoner Behind Barbed Wire

The Missouri Department of Corrections is required to establish a nursery within a women’s prison by July 2025 under legislation signed into law Friday by Gov. Mike Parson. 

On the final day of session, Missouri  lawmakers approved a bill that included provisions creating the “Correctional Center Nursery Program.” Lawmakers also added $495,000 to the Department of Corrections’ budget to fund the program. 

Under the bill, infants born to women in prison to stay with their moms for the first 18 months of their lives. The state can also accept donations and grants to help fund the nursery. 

We’re here doing good for families, for babies, for moms, for us — the whole state of Missouri,” Rep. Bruce DeGroot, a ​​Chesterfield Republican who spearheaded the legislation, said when the bill cleared the legislature in May. 

Similar programs exist in less than a dozen states, and studies have shown they contribute to reduced recidivism rates. A former Illinois Department of Corrections warden told Missouri lawmakers at a January committee hearing that the program in Illinois improved both facility culture and reduced violations.

The Independent’s Tessa Weinberg contributed to this story.