Babies behind bars: Kelly Ellard one of 10 inmates caring for children
Kelly Ellard, one of British Columbia’s most notorious murderers, wants day parole so she can take her newborn to parenting programs and doctor appointments.
While news of Ellard’s bundle of joy came as a surprise to many, she is just one of 10 federal inmates caring for their children behind bars as part of Correctional Service of Canada’s Mother-Child Program.
"It provides a supportive environment that promotes stability and continuity for the important mother-child relationship, and to assist in the rehabilitation and successful reintegration of women offenders,” reads part of a statement from CSC.
"It can either be, under certain circumstances an aggravating factor. It could create stress for you,” said Patrick Storey, a spokesperson for the Parole Board. “Or it could be a mitigating factor. It could help you appreciate the important things in life."
Children can live full-time with their mothers in federal prison up until the age of five and then on a part-time basis after that.
Mothers must take parenting and first aid courses and so do any other inmates sharing housing with the mom and child.
“There’s an opportunity there for what are in effect small family units to care for the child along with the mother,” said Simon Fraser University criminologist Rob Gordon.
While Ellard may not be the only prisoner caring for a baby behind bars, Gordon says the circumstances of her pregnancy might be unique.
"Conceiving of a child during a conjugal visit has created a fair amount of outrage and concern,” said Gordon.
Ellard is serving a life-sentence for the 1997 murder of 14-year-old Reena Virk in Saanich.
Although she was just 15-years-old herself at the time of the murder, Ellard was tried as an adult.
The child’s father is also behind bars after his parole was revoked last year.