Babies can serve time with their incarcerated moms, rules B.C. judge

Incarcerated women take care of their babies in a 2008 photo in Indianapolis. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Michael Conroy

VANCOUVER - A B.C. Supreme Court judge says a decision to cancel a program allowing incarcerated women to serve time with their babies was unconstitutional.

Two former inmates of the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women in Maple Ridge, B.C., launched the court action in 2008, when a prison official cancelled the program because infants were not within the mandate of the correctional service.

Justice Carol Ross sided with the mothers, saying the decision violated their charter and equality rights.

The judge suspended her ruling for six months so the provincial government can comply with the decision.

Grace Pastine of the BC Civil Liberties Association says the program led to better heath outcomes for the babies, and the government will no longer be able to refuse to administer such programs.

Kasari Govender of West Coast LEAF, a women's legal education group, says the ruling is a win for highly vulnerable women and their children who will now have better future prospects.

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