SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) --Mother's day is this coming Sunday, but for one group of moms it will be bitter sweet.
Christina McElwee can't wait for this weekend to pass. She's an inmate in San Francisco's county jail with a 2-year-old daughter she's been away from for a year.
"I make sure I send projects home to keep me busy and to also know mommy is still around, just not physically, but still there," McElwee said.
Of the 121 women incarcerated at the jail, more than half are moms. It's a similar statistic nationwide. For many in County Jail No. 2, Mother's Day will be bittersweet, so Thursday there was an effort to ease the hurt with a special program.
San Francisco is on the cutting edge of initiatives designed to help women behind bars maintain family bonds, including stations for pumping breast milk and increased visitation hours.
Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi believes the public benefits.
"There have been studies that show children of people in custody have a higher propensity of running afoul of the law themselves, so that's why this is a public safety endeavor and also an act of humanity," he said.
Kandy Ifopo was caught in that sad cycle. Her mother was in and out of jail much of her life
"Sometimes I felt as if I was not present to a lot of people," she said. "I didn't get paid attention a lot to."
Kandy ended up doing time herself but is now turning her life around.
Thursday, she was part of a group performing for other formerly incarcerated women. She has reconnected with her mom and that's the hope for everyone, even in jail, they want someone to say "Happy Mother's Day."