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Ohio Prisons Change Birthing Policy

In January, 2000, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and corrections (DORC), announced it would change its policies for pregnant prisoners at the Franklin Pre-Release Center in Columbus, Ohio, which houses the state's pregnant prisoners. The policy change is a result of a lawsuit filed in 1999 by Sean Turner, who asked to see his wife Barbara Ann Turner, give birth to their child. A federal court issued an unpublished ruling allowing Turner to witness the birth of his daughter at the Ohio State University Hospital.

The policy change prompted by Turner's lawsuit is to allow a "birthing support person," the child's father or other loved one, to be present and help the pregnant prisoner give birth. DORC director Reginald Wilkinson also said an Ohio prison nursery is being planned for the women's prison in Marysville. Breast pumps for lactating mothers will no longer be considered "security risks."

Wilkinson told the media: "Anything we can do to prevent persons from future criminal behavior is our mission, and strengthening the family is one of the most powerful rehabilitative things we can do." Wilkinson did not say why, if that was indeed the case, it took losing a federal lawsuit to implement the policy change.

Source: Akron Beacon Journal, Columbus Dispatch

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