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Senator: Moms Should Be Able To Pump Breast Milk In Jail

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Female inmates are the fastest-growing prison population in the state. New moms and pregnant women who are heading to jail could be affected by legislation proposed this session. 

Sen. Lisa Torraco’s bill would do two things: One, it would allow new moms to pump their breast milk while they’re in jail or prison, so it can be given to their babies. 

"There are women who are in jail—and sometimes even for short periods of time—who want to continue nursing their baby on the outside when they’re released, or want their baby to have the good value of mother’s milk," she said. 

And two, it would add a woman’s pregnancy status to the list of things a judge must consider during sentencing. 

"When the children are separated from their mothers at birth, and we have immediate CYFD intervention, what we get are children who start to have attachment disorders," she said. "And those are the kids who really act out severely in the teen years."

The state’s Corrections Department could also grant a temporary furlough so a woman can deliver at home and stay with the baby while on house arrest. But the department has argued this could present liability issues if an inmate uses that furlough to commit new crimes or flee. 

Funding for KUNM's Public Health New Mexico project comes from the McCune Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Find out more at publichealthnm.org.

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
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