Cook Co. allows jailed mothers to visit with children

May 12, 2008 8:23:17 PM PDT
The Cook County Sheriff's Department unveiled a new program that reunites children with their moms. The "Bright Space" visiting area allows female inmates charged with non-violent crimes contact visits with their children. Inmate mothers can spend time with their children in a warm, living room-type setting.

The mothers are typically awaiting trial but have been unable to post bond.

Sheriff Tom Dart says the program was created as part of an effort to help women transition back into the community. He says the program is designed to help women become not only more productive citizens but better parents as well.

"They do not want to ever come back here. Most of them, this is the first time they have been here. They are wanting to change their lives and us re-integrating them with their families goes a long ways toward doing that," Dart said. "And as much as Shakita and Yvonne have enjoyed this, they promise me they will not be back."

Dart says no tax dollars have been spent on the program. Bright Horizons Foundation for Children provided the funding. The program is believed to be the first in the nation in a jail setting

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