22 Sep 2011

Prison mother and baby units open this week

6:04 pm on 22 September 2011

The first of two new prison units have been officially opened allowing women inmates to keep their babies with them for longer.

A law change which took effect this week extends the age limit for children living in prison from nine months to two years.

On Thursday Corrections Minister Judith Collins opened a unit at Christchurch Women's Prison and will open another at the Auckland Region Women's Corrections Facility on Friday.

Ms Collins says women will undergo parenting education while in the units and must be drug-free.

She says the units are a practical and responsible move, as about a dozen babies are born to mothers in jail each year and a woman's rehabilitation is helped by forming a strong bond with her child.