Pregnant Inmates on the Rise in Roanoke - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

Pregnant Inmates on the Rise in Roanoke

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Behind the bars at the Western Virginia Regional Jail are hundreds of inmates, but recently more female inmates are coming in, and are pregnant.

Krista Harvey's daughter, Jaime Wethington, was several months pregnant when she started her six-month sentence. Now, Wethington is a mom to a one-month-old baby.

Harvey says, in addition to charges involving stolen goods, she believes her daughter's pregnancy affected her sentence time.

"I think the fact that the baby had a hole in its heart, the fact of suspicion of drugs being involved the baby was underweight as far along as she was," says Harvey.

Her granddaughter was born healthy. The jail's superintendent, Bobby Russell, says overall well-being of unborn children is one of the reasons why he thinks they're getting more pregnant inmates.

"We have some of the judiciaries in our jurisdictions that want the female inmates to be incarcerated while they're pregnant to insure they're not exposing the child to illegal substances," says Russell.

The jail has one of the largest medical services units for inmates in the state, which is why the jail has taken pregnant inmates from other localities. 

The jail spends, on average, a little more than $2 million each year on medical services for all types of conditions.