Program that helps keep women out of prison in danger of funding cut

Posted at 10:29 PM, Dec 02, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-03 00:29:47-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- A program that takes aim at preventing crime by providing single and low-income mother's support could be on the chopping block.

In Salt Lake the nurse-family partnership reaches out to parents early in their pregnancy to help them build strong relations and provide safe homes.

Monica Barreto is one of 98 mothers who takes part in the program.

"It was like I had a class with my nurse. It's not just about having a healthy happy baby, but how to become a better person and a mom," Barreto said.

Nurses involved in the program say children from low-income homes are vulnerable. And those from abusive homes are far more likely to engage in abusive relationships or criminal activity.

A new study suggests parents and children who take part in home visit programs are significantly less likely to be incarcerated.

"The errors of parents should not be the legacy of their children," said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill.

In the last few decades there has been a 600 percent increase in the number of women incarcerated and the people involved in this program say that comes at a cost to the whole community.

"Diversion programs are the answer to preventing crime from occurring and reducing the entire law enforcement's budget," said Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Burbank.

The programs director says in-house visits could be significantly cutback if Congress doesn't renew the funding for the social service program.