Female Offenders

Female offenders are provided appropriate programs and services to meet their physical, social, and psychological needs

In 1993, the BOP developed and implemented a new designation and classification system for female offenders to take into account the fact that female offenders are less likely to be violent or attempt escape. As a result of this classification system, the missions of several facilities were changed to provide more low and minimum security bed space for female offenders.

Appropriate programs and services are provided to female offenders to meet their physical, social, and psychological needs. At institutions housing female inmates, women are offered many of the same educational and recreation programs as male offenders. Job training is also available with apprenticeship programs in 40 different trades. Accredited by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Bureau of Apprenticeship & Training, these programs offer female offenders career opportunities upon their release.

Mothers and Children

The BOP provides female inmates with medical and social services related to pregnancy, birth control, child placement, and abortion. Inmates are medically screened for pregnancy upon admission and are instructed to inform medical staff as soon as they suspect they are pregnant. If necessary, the childbirth takes place at a hospital outside the institution, and arrangements are made with outside social service agencies to aid the inmate in finding an appropriate placement for the child. Newborn children are not permitted to return to the institution with their mothers. They can, however, accompany an adult visitor in accordance with BOP visiting policy.

The BOP offers a community residential program called Mothers and Infants Nurturing Together (MINT) for women who are pregnant at the time of commitment. The MINT program is based in a residential reentry center and promotes bonding and enhanced parenting skills for low-risk female inmates who are pregnant. Women are eligible to enter the program if they are in their last three months of pregnancy, have less than five years remaining to serve on their sentence, and are eligible for furlough. Prior to the birth, the mother must make arrangements for a custodian to take care of the child. Institution and MINT staff and community social service agencies may aid the inmate in finding an appropriate placement for the child. The inmate or a guardian must assume financial responsibility for the child’s medical care while residing at MINT. The mother has three months to bond with the newborn child before returning to an institution to complete her sentence. In select MINT programs, the inmate may stay for an additional period of bonding with the child. The decision to refer an inmate to the MINT program is at the discretion of the inmate's unit team.

Inmates in this program participate in pre- and post-natal classes on such topics as childbirth, parenting, and coping skills. In addition to services specifically related to parenting, MINT sites also offer chemical dependency treatment, physical and sexual abuse counseling, budgeting classes, and vocational and educational programs.

Abortion

In accordance with Federal law, the BOP may not use appropriated funds to require any person to perform or facilitate the performance of an abortion. BOP funds are used to pay for abortion services only when the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus is carried to term or in the case of rape. In all other cases, non-BOP funds must be obtained to pay for an abortion. However, in all cases whether the BOP pays for the abortion or not, the BOP may expend funds to escort the inmate to a facility outside the institution to receive the procedure. Inmates receive medical, religious, and social counseling regarding their decision whether to carry the pregnancy to term or to have an elective abortion. If an inmate decides to have an abortion, arrangements are made for these medical services to be provided in an appropriate clinic outside the institution. BOP policy provides that employees may decline to participate in the provision of abortion counseling or services.