Cook County Invests Half a Million Dollars to Support Pregnant Women and Moms in County Jail

Commissioner Bridget Gainer Brings Funding to Stop the Separation of Women and Young Children at Cook County Jail

The Cook County Board of Commissioners approved two grants totaling $500,000.00 to provide comprehensive services to pregnant and post-partum women in jail and their very young children.

Lead sponsor Commissioner Bridget Gainer announced the award of two grants of $250,000 each to Catholic Charities and the Haymarket Center – two organizations with long histories of serving women in the justice system.

“We know that children whose parents are involved in the criminal justice system are at greater risk of following the same path,” said Commissioner Bridget Gainer, long an advocate for pregnant women in the criminal justice system. “These grants allow the county to start on day one to tackle recidivism as an intergenerational occurrence.”

“Expecting a child is a unique opportunity to engage a troubled woman in services,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “Pregnancy and childbirth provide intense motivation for change.”

Services provided to the women will include counseling, parenting skills, drug treatment, job placement and medical care.

Esther Franco-Payne, the executive director of Cabrini Green Legal Aid, has been an advocate for wraparound services and advocacy for people affected by the criminal justice system.

“Punishment without any rehabilitation leads to more crime after people leave prison,” said Esther Franco-Payne. “We have to invest in preventing people who have been arrested from committing more crimes. The services provided with this new grant funding will ensure women are treated with care after giving birth in the jails and offered wraparound support to reduce recidivism.”

Gainer said it would be a tragedy to miss the chance to help a child and a mother lead a healthy and productive life.

In 2010, she passed legislation to block pregnant women from getting shackled while in custody at the Cook County Jail.

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