Nursery in Ohio prison lets inmate moms bond with their kids

Published: Saturday, March 10, 2018 @ 9:28 AM
Updated: Saturday, March 10, 2018 @ 9:28 AM

            In this Feb. 26, 2018 photo, Janisha Meredith plays with her son, Javon Jackson, in his crib at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, Ohio. Meredith is part of the Achieving Baby Care for Success (ABC'S) program that allow babies to stay with their mothers during incarceration. (Gus Chan/The Plain Dealer via AP)
In this Feb. 26, 2018 photo, Janisha Meredith plays with her son, Javon Jackson, in his crib at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, Ohio. Meredith is part of the Achieving Baby Care for Success (ABC'S) program that allow babies to stay with their mothers during incarceration. (Gus Chan/The Plain Dealer via AP)

One-month-old Javon Jackson fidgets with his mom's jacket as he drinks from his bottle and holds her hand.

His mom coos. Her friends laugh, and a precocious, 2-year-old toddler stops by and waves hi. In all, it is a typical, upbeat moment for any mother and child — until prison officials tell Javon's mom, Janisha Meredith of Cleveland, that a head count is scheduled in 5 minutes.

Javon and four other children, who were born while their mothers were incarcerated, are being raised by their moms in Ohio's prison nursery, a facility that sits less than 30 feet from the razor wire that circles the Ohio Reformatory for Women.

Mothers and their children sleep in 8-foot by 14-foot rooms, complete with cribs, night lights, and lots and lots of diapers. Their days are spent in a common nursery area, where inmates, assigned to be nannies, often care for the children when their mothers work elsewhere in the prison or take classes.

Since 2001, 298 infants and toddlers have lived with their mothers in the Marysville prison. The state is one of 11 in the country to offer a prison nursery. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons also has a program.

Proponents say the programs slash recidivism and allow mothers to bond deeply with their children. An annual federal grant, this year it is $61,000, funds Ohio's project. Volunteers and officials with Ohio State University Extension provide parenting and family education classes.

The women in the program are appreciative.

"This program has helped me become a better parent and a more mature person," says Meredith, 23, a convicted drug dealer who has been in the nursery for less than two months. She is to be released in April. "I am able to pay more attention to what is important: my child."

Critics question the long-term impact of prison nursery programs.

They say children, especially infants, should never be placed in prisons. Opponents fear nurseries will hinder cognitive development and growth, as prisons are built to punish and rehabilitate, not to cater to the needs of a child.

They say residential programs offer a far better alternative. These programs are based in communities and, in most cases, are part of probation. They allow mothers to work, gain treatment and bond with their children.

"The very environment of a prison is stressful, and that stress is not good for a child," says James Dwyer, a law professor at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. "Prison officials are not in a place to do what's best for the child. They are there to do what's in the best interest of the inmate."

Gail Smith, the director of the Women in Prison Project for the Correctional Association of New York, agrees.

"The culture of prisons focuses on security and is punitive," Smith said. "Mother-infant programs must be family-focused and nurturing."

Some officials in states that do not have prison nurseries cite the necessary renovation costs. Others simply fight the idea of it.

"There are a lot of people who don't believe that children should be in prison," says Kristina Toth of the New Hampshire Department of Corrections, which does not have a nursery program.

The ABC'S of parenting

Others say it is hard to debate the success of the programs. Ohio's prison system says it has not done any studies involving the recidivism of those in the program, although administrators say only a handful have returned to prison in recent years.

Other states, however, have seen drops in recidivism for those who go through the program. For instance, New York officials say the recidivism rate for those who go through the program is 3 percent, nearly the same as that for the Washington state program, where administrators estimate a recidivism rate of 3 percent to 5 percent. In Nebraska's program, the rate is 10 percent.

In interviews, officials from the states that have the programs — California, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, New York, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and West Virginia — say nurseries offer a chance for young mothers to realize the gift they have and to make the most of the opportunity.

Ohio prison officials say judges from across the state call and ask whether convicted women who are pregnant can take part in the program. But few are eligible.

Convicted women who are pregnant are sent to the prison system's Franklin Medical Center in Columbus to serve their sentences until giving birth. There, they are isolated to ensure their safety. Records show the facility housed 41 pregnant inmates in February.

The women deliver their children at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. For low-level offenders interested in the nursery program, administrators look into their mental health and criminal history. No woman can be a part of the program with a conviction of violence, and her sentence must be less than 36 months.

Those who are eligible can move with their children to the nursery in Marysville. For those who are not placed in the program, they must give their children to family or place them into foster care.

Janisha Meredith and Alexis Stoneburner were among the lucky ones. The two women, from different parts of Ohio, are raising their children in the nursery.

"The baby should always be with the mom, but not everyone gets this chance," says Stoneburner, 23, of Zanesville, as she held her sleeping 2-month-old daughter, Lillyana.

Stoneburner also has a 6-year-old daughter, and she said she is determined to make the most of her second chance as a parent.

"Being here has changed me. I won't ever take things for granted. It's time to step up and stop thinking about myself."

It won't be easy.

In July, a Muskingum County judge sentenced Stoneburner to 11 months in prison for possessing fentanyl. She has been in drug treatment on-and-off again since 2010.

She gave birth to Lillyana in December.

"For these folks (dealing with addiction), it is a lifelong battle," says D. Michael Haddox, the Muskingum County prosecutor, who handled Stoneburner's case. "They are the ones who have to decide whether they are going to do it."

In August, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Maureen Clancy sentenced Meredith to nine months in prison for peddling marijuana near a school. Meredith has two other children, daughters ages 6 and 3. She delivered Javon on Jan. 2.

"I'm a better mother today," Meredith says. "The little things count the most."

Her brightly painted room in the nursery could be pulled from a page of Parents magazine. Toys, clothes, children's books and diapers are stacked neatly or tucked under her bed. The rooms are the same throughout the nursery.

"These children don't know they're growing up in prison," says Clara Golding-Kent, a spokeswoman for the prison. "But they do know that they are with mom. It is only a negative if someone makes it a negative. These are life-changing moments."

'It works'

Joseph Carlson, a professor at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, has studied the effects of women raising children in prison for more than 20 years. At first, he was skeptical.

"I thought, 'That sounds really strange,' " Carlson says. "Then I realized that these programs work really well. Women who keep their babies while in prison bond and don't come back to prison."

Carlson studied data from Nebraska's prison system. From January 1991 through November 1994, prior to the implementation of a nursery, 30 incarcerated women had children and were forced to give them up to either family members or authorities. Fifteen of those women returned to prison, for recidivism rate of 50 percent.

Carlson found that from 1994 through 2004, 65 women completed the nursery program. Only 11 women re-offended, for a recidivism rate of 16.8 percent.

"This stops the cycle," Carlson says. "For many of these women, their mothers were in prison, too."

The next step

Meredith and Stoneburner are eager to talk about the program, how they learned to budget with laminated board-game money, how they like making communal meals in a microwave — there are no appliances — with other moms, and how they enjoy caring for their children.

The excitement fades when they talk about leaving prison. They fear going back to the culture that led them to Marysville.

"I'm nervous," Stoneburner says. "It's real out there."

Mothers who leave the nursery when their sentences end receive a car seat, a portable crib and a supply of diapers and clothes. More importantly, they also take with them information on whom to contact for support services, such as safe housing, recovery services and education services, such as Head Start. After that, many mothers are forced to rely on family.

It is unclear how much the fathers of Meredith and Stoneburner's children will help, as neither woman likes to talk about them. They want to work and care for their children.

"It really is stressful for them," says Maria Jones, a case manager. "You can't change certain things. But you can make the right choices."

Meredith holds a sleeping Javon and plays with his hair, thinking of leaving prison next month.

"I pushed my (older) kids off on my mom," Meredith says. "I had to go here; I had to go there. I had to go party. Now, my children come first.

"When I go home, I don't want to come back."


Information from: The Plain Dealer,

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Officials investigate after person is shot in the mouth in Trotwood 

Published: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 12:32 AM
Updated: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 2:22 AM

UPDATE @ 2:25 a.m: Officials continue to investigate after a person was shot in the mouth in Trotwood early Friday morning.

OTHER LOCAL NEWS: Two suspected metal thieves caught red-handed at Hewitt Soap Factory

Initial reports indicate the shooting occurred in the 4700 block of Knollcroft Road just after midnight. 

The suspect was not on scene when authorities arrived, but officials are describing the suspect vehicle as a black Lincoln SUV. 

The victim was transported to Miami Valley Hospital on unknown conditions.


Crews are responding to the 4700 block of Knollcroft Road in Trotwood on a reported shooting that occurred early Friday morning.

The incident was dispatched around 12:20 a.m., per initial reports.

We will continue to update this story with more details. 

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Dayton traffic from the WHIO Traffic Center

Published: Friday, March 02, 2018 @ 2:52 AM
Updated: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 1:22 AM

Traffic issues can be reported by calling our newsroom at 937-259-2237 or tweeting @WHIOTraffic .

Traffic conditions are updated every six minutes on AM 1290 and News 95.7 FM.

Major Highway Incidents

  • No incidents to report. 

Surface Street Incidents

  • No incidents to report. 

>> RELATED: WHIO App-Winter

>> RELATED: Track the latest conditions in your neighborhood on our live WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

Ongoing Construction & Other Closures 

Live look at highways on our traffic cameras here.

Latest traffic conditions are also available on our traffic map. 


  • Arlington Road between Pleasant Plain and Upper Lewisburg Salem Road, BRIDGE CLOSURE, March 5 - Sept. 30. All ramps for I-70 will remain open. 
  • Keowee Street north of Stanley Avenue, bridge closed until 2019. The official detour is: Keowee Street to Stanley Avenue to I-75 to Wagner Ford Road and back to Dixie. More information is available here.
  • Stewart Street Ramp to US 35 East, RAMP CLOSURE March 28 - Sept 30, 2018. The official detour is: Stewart Street to Edwin C. Moses Boulevard to I-75 north to US 35 west to James H. McGee Blvd. to US 35 east.
  • SR 48 between First Street and Riverdale Street, Lane closures March 19 - April 1. One lane will remain open in each direction.
  • SR 4 north/south between I-70 and Lower Valley Pike, Lane closure April 2 - 26. One northbound and two southbound lanes will remain open. 
  • I-75 north Ramp to US 35 west, RAMP CLOSURE, March 12 - Sept. 30. The official detour is: I-75 north to US 35 east to Jefferson/Main Street to Ludlow Street to US 35 west. 
  • I-75 north Ramp to US 35 west and east, Lane width restriction until Apr. 1, 2018. One lane will remain open on the ramp with a width of 11 feet.
  • US 35 east between Edwin C. Moses Boulevard and Jefferson Street, Overnight lane closures March 19 at 8 p.m. - March 20 at 6 a.m. Two eastbound lanes will remain open.


  • N. Market Street between Foss Way/Kirk Lane and Stonyridge Avenue, ROAD CLOSURE March 5 at 7 a.m. - Aug. 10 at 5 p.m. 
  • US 36 westbound between Scott Drive and Kienle Drive, Lane closure March 26 - June 30. One westbound lane will remain open. 


  • SR 47 between Fifth Avenue and Wilkinson Avenue, Lane closures Jan. 21 - Nov. 27. One lane will remain open in each direction at all times. 
  • SR 274 between Shroyer Road and Island Avenue, Lane closure April 9 - June 9. One lane will remain open in each direction. 


  • SR 121 between Washington Street and Fairview Street, ROAD CLOSURE Mar. 12 - April 13. The official detour is: SR 722 to US 127 to SR 503. 
  • SR 121 between Arnold Street and Harter Road, ROAD CLOSURE Mar. 12 - April 13. The official detour is: SR 722 to US 127 to SR 503. 


  • I-70 east Ramp to I-675 north, RAMP CLOSURE March 15 - Aug. 15. The official detour is: I-70 east to I-675 south to SR 444 to I-675 north


  • US 68 between SR 508 and Township Road 310, ROAD CLOSURE April 23 - 27. The official detour is: US 68 to SR 296 to SR 29 to SR 235 to SR 47 to US 68. 

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Top AF leader: ‘You have to learn to say, that’s not good enough’

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 10:30 PM

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson addressed more than 240 graduates of the Air Force Institute of Technology on Thursday evening at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. BARRIE BARBER /STAFF
Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson addressed more than 240 graduates of the Air Force Institute of Technology on Thursday evening at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. BARRIE BARBER /STAFF

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson told newly minted “technical leaders” of the Air Force Institute of Technology to never stop asking why and to be innovators who build strong and trusted relationships to solve the nation’s national security challenges.

Wilson, an Air Force Academy alumnae and former Rhodes scholar at Oxford, spoke Thursday night to more than 240 AFIT graduates among an audience of 1,200 at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

RELATED: Threats will drive BRAC strategy, Air Force leader says

Among three key points of advice, the top Air Force civilian leader told graduates to be critical thinkers who challenge assumptions about why.

“You will also now serve as technical leaders and as leaders in technology and science you have to learn four important words. You have to learn to say, ‘that’s not good enough.’”

The secretary cited recent hypoxia-like incidents among pilots experiencing oxygen loss in some of the most sophisticated aircraft, such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and more basic training aircraft such as the propeller-driven T-6 Texan, as an example to keep asking why and not be pressured to cut short the search for answers.

She told graduates they should not be afraid to say no, even to superiors, until a solution is known.

Wilson told them they must also be innovators.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Air Force leader says total dominance not a ‘birthright’

“Innovation doesn’t come from requirement statements,” she said. “There was never a requirement statement for a silicon chip. There was never a requirement statement for Uber. There was probably wasn’t a requirement statement for GPS.

“If you’re not making mistakes as an engineer, you’re probably only proving that what you already know really does work,” she said. “That’s not innovation. We need you to push the bounds of what you know.”

The high-flying, record-breaking Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird spy plane with a needle-like sleek shape demanded overcoming a series of technical problems, from aviators in space suits ejecting at extreme speeds and altitudes to heat-resistant glass that wouldn’t distort surveillance cameras view.

“The result was an air-breathing monster faster than a speeding bullet,” she said. “What would your innovation be?”

Developing trusted relationships is the third key, Wilson said.

“The work that you are about matters, and the people matter more,” she said.

EXCLUSIVE: Top Air Force general says ‘all programs are at risk’

From her time at the Air Force Academy to serving on the national security council staff, the former New Mexico congresswoman said she could count “on one hand” people she could call on at any time.

“Those kinds of relationships are built over a long period of time are priceless in your life,” she said.

The Air Force’s top leaders listen and trust each other and see things from different perspectives to address national security issues, she said.

“You have everything to gain as young officers and civilians in the Air Force to see alternative perspectives, to find your partners in crime who are going to push you and make you better because steel sharpens steel,” she told AFIT graduates.

“The United States Air Force relies on the most advanced technology to defend our nation and project power in the air and space around the globe,” Wilson added. “We’re going to lean on you. We’re going to lean hard on you as the next generation of scientists and engineers in air and space.

“So choose to ask why, choose to be an innovator, and choose to build strong relationships throughout your professional lives,” she said. “Our nation needs you desperately and future generations are counting on you.”

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How to keep Facebook from accessing your information 

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 5:21 PM

Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica data grab scandal started with a personality quiz app but it’s not the only Facebook App you should be worried about, according to tech experts. 

“You’ve probably given away a lot of information and unfortunately that information is used to manipulate people,” said Gayle Jenkins, the owner of DNA Computers in Kettering.

Jenkins found over 100 apps on her own Facebook account that have grabbed her profile information, friend list, posts, likes, or even photos she’s posted and photos she’s tagged in. 

A look at my phone revealed over 70 apps including “Apply Magic Sauce.”

According to their website, the app translates individuals digital footprints into psychological profiles. Jenkins showed me how to get rid of it. 


To remove or modify these Facebook Apps and quizzes using your phone:

Open the Facebook app

Click the menu (which is typically designated by three lines)

Select “account settings”

Click “apps”

Choose apps you want to delete 


To delete Facebook Apps on a desktop or laptop:

Log on to Facebook

Click the menu (the small triangle in the upper right corner)

Click “settings”

Click “apps” (located in a list on the left side of the screen)

Select an app 

Select the pencil icon to modify settings or click the “X” to delete the app


You can turn off all app access completely, but Jenkins recommends deleting apps one by one.

“if you scroll down past the apps there is a box where you can turn off Platform. Platform is the interface which allows Facebook to work with third-party websites and software. If you disable it, you can’t log into anything with Facebook anymore,” said Jenkins.

Jenkins warns of another big risk with access you grant these apps.

“If they collect enough information they could actually carry out a social engineering hack,” Jenkins said, “potentially answering your security questions or pretending to be you and call a company and request access to information about you.” 

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