MINT Mother, Baby Benefit to Birth Beyond Bars

Rosales and Baby Ella benefit from a program where mothers and babies are 'MINT' to be together.

Rosales is a non-violent offender who spent six months in the Volunteers of America Texas Mothers and Infants Nurturing Together (MINT) program. But prior to that she was sent to federal prison for a probation violation. She was three weeks pregnant at book in.

"My case manager at Carswell told me about the MINT program which truly gave me the hope I needed to get through my first few months of pregnancy," Rosales said.

MINT is a special program of VOA Texas for female offenders who come to the Federal Bureau of Prisons expecting to deliver a child. Non-violent offenders who would not be considered a risk to abscond are eligible to become clients of the program.

"I loved that I was able to put Ella to sleep to the sound of my voice every night, wake up every morning to the sound of her breathing, able to enjoy all her whimpers and coos and just be able to hold her. This program has truly taught me that I can rise above my circumstances. Spending every minute of every day with my baby, that was the best part," she added.

Expecting mothers like Rosales enter the MINT program at about seven months into their pregnancy and spend the next two months preparing for the birth of their child by attending classes and registering for public aid programs. The classes range from learning parenting tips to separation classes should the mother be sent back to prison to complete her sentence postpartum. After the birth of the baby they will spend the next three months building a bond with their child. When the client's time is complete in the program, the child will be placed with an approved guardian, usually a family member or close friend of the client, and then the client will return to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to complete her sentence.

However, in Rosales' case, she was released with time served upon leaving the MINT program and able to continue life with baby Ella with breaking their bond.

Rosales added "I am truly grateful for having had the opportunity to initiate an intimate relationship with Ella from the day she was born until we were released. You feel such an overwhelming love for your baby when they’re born and I know nothing can compare to the bond I was able to share with her while at the MINT program. I have a stronger emotional attachment with her thanks to the program."