Most jailed mums released alongside their babies, Corrections says

Corrections is celebrating five years of a more lenient time period for prisoners to be able to keep their babies. 

Tot Kate* hit most of her major milestones behind bars, taking her first steps in prison, as mum Hayley* served time for burglary. Source: 1 NEWS

About 80 babies have been brought up inside New Zealand prisons within the past five years, and yesterday the tots in Christchurch Women's were given a new playhouse to mark the anniversary.

Before then, they were taken away after nine months.

It's hoped that by the time the child reaches age two the mother will also be ready for release, but if that's not the case the the pair will be separated and alternative arrangements will be made.

"Thankfully we haven't got there at this stage the mothers have been able to be released at the same time near that two year age group," Prison Director Wayne McKnight says.

Mr McKnight says that there are strict rules around which mothers are allowed to keep their newborns.

"No previous or current convictions for violence against children, checks with Child Youth and Family to make sure there's no care and protection issues and having a good nominated caregiver in the community as a backup," he says.

Baby Kate* has seen many of her first milestones in prison, like her first steps, as her mother Hayley* serves time for burglary.

Around 80 babies have been brought up in prisons around the country over the past five years. Source: 1 NEWS

Hayley* is due for parole early next year and while she's thankful her baby can see her inside, Kate is already picking up bad language from being around bad people.

"I have no control of our surroundings and people that she comes in contact with.

"All of our family photos I just happen to be wearing a jumpsuit so I'm sure one day she'll ask why I'm wearing that thing."

*Name changed for anonymity