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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Did you all see this article?

I'm honestly having a hard time seeing how having babies in prison is a good thing. While the article says no harm has come to the babies, how can they be sure? Who would ever know if someone were molesting them? What is going to be the long term affects of being raised in prison? What kind of attachment disorder will come from having to be separated from the only moms they have known once they hit a yr old or whatever? At what age is it no longer appropriate to have them in prison? Age 2, age 3 etc What happens to the mom who has to give up the child she's been attached to for several years. I'd think there would be less trauma for the child if they never knew the mom. Of course then they will have to leave a foster mom or family surrogate once the mom is out of prison. So I guess that's an issue either way.

Prison atmospheres are very harsh, very violent, lots of anger, yelling, swearing - not the most peaceful atmosphere for a baby. And what happens when the kid is older and says "Oh yeah - I spent my first ____ yrs of life in prison".

Now honestly, I"m not sure foster care is better than any of that. Surely not most in the US. Maybe CA has a better program... I'd think if there were a loving relative available it would surely be better. I understand the need for breastmilk. Why not make pumping an option? Prison is not an ideal situation and I think people are trying to make it into one. IMHO it's not a place for a baby. People are in prison due to often serious problems. Why would we trust them with a baby? Yes, many people give up drugs for a child. Usually it is very short lived.

Please no flames. I'm just trying to understand with all of the issues of how bad prisons are and how untrustworthy most criminals are how it can be good to stick a baby there. While I fully support AP and EBF I think pumping is a better option. Maybe for minor crimes and if the women were separate from other prisoners in a sort of house arrest facility instead of locked up in cells this might work.... Just thinking out loud....

What are your thoughts on it all? Is breastmilk the most important thing? Is being with the mom more important than the trustworthyness and atmostphere? I'm just thinking of my state's guideline to try to keep kids with their moms - out of prison moms - and how often it backfires and is even worse than foster care for those kids.
 

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first of all, i don't think all criminals are so "untrustworthy" when it comes to raising a kid. i know that a lot of women are imprisoned because they made a poor choice in trusting someone. i also don't think that the chances of being molested necessarily shoot up in a prison environment. millions of kids that don't ever see prisons are molested.

second of all, i truly think we need an overhaul of the prison system with a focus on rehabilitation if we want to see any kind of difference in society. in relation to this topic i think that would look like working to keep mothers that are non-violent and non-sex related crimes connected to their kids. perhaps even have family-friendly facilities for this population
 

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I very skeptical of kids in prisions for moms to raise. Also, what about dads? It could be legally argued laws allowing kids/babies in women prision is sexist.

I think in part depends how long mom is going to be in prision and waht her crime was. What the other options for the child. First option should be other parent. Then other family (both sides) and then foster car.

I do not want them in general population.

Also, as much as I value the mother child bond I don't think it is that fragile that relationships can't be developed after the mom is out and while mom is in. It is not much different than when dad is away. Or an older child adoption.

I think we need to work on improving our foster care system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by gruver View Post
first of all, i don't think all criminals are so "untrustworthy" when it comes to raising a kid. i know that a lot of women are imprisoned because they made a poor choice in trusting someone. i also don't think that the chances of being molested necessarily shoot up in a prison environment. millions of kids that don't ever see prisons are molested.

second of all, i truly think we need an overhaul of the prison system with a focus on rehabilitation if we want to see any kind of difference in society. in relation to this topic i think that would look like working to keep mothers that are non-violent and non-sex related crimes connected to their kids. perhaps even have family-friendly facilities for this population
Yes, the statistics are high for molestation even outside prison. I'm just thinking of the fact that most sex criminals are molested as "payback" in prisons and the fact that the guards look the other way. Prisons have their own "code" of what's acceptable and most prisoners think sex crimes toward children are not. But I'd wonder if those who were sex criminals wouldn't find the babies to be easy prey. Or if the babies parents were sex criminals.... I guess the article doesn't say if there are checks/balances in place for these sorts of things and they would def be needed I think.

What do you mean by a lot of women are imprisoned due to bad choices in trusting someone? I don't see how someone could be involved in a crime w/o knowing full well what the were doing (obviously exceptions to everything....)

I too think prison reform is really needed!! And a family friendly facility for minor non-violent crimes could be good - but babies in conventional prison ???
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Marsupialmom View Post
I think we need to work on improving our foster care system.
I think we need to improve our society and our drug rehabilitation programs given that most women in prison are there as a result of poverty, abuse, sexism, racism, and drug addiction.

I think babies should stay with their mothers even in prison as long as a safe environment is provided. AFAIK, prisons with programs like this have a nursery. It's not like the kids are sitting around in cells with the mom all day.

Of course there are other issues to consider like is the father around AND willing to care for the child, but I suspect often times that is not the case. Also, the length of the sentence, the type of crime, etc. But whenever possible, baby should stay with mom. Personanlly, I think it's one of the the child's basic human rights.
 

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There's a prison facility near my city that is designed for women with tiny children. I think it's fantastic. It doesn't seem to be a terrible environment, and the women can take parenting classes and get support. The babies get lots of attention and care.
 

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in the uk at least, women tend to be imprisoned for more petty offences & shorter stretches, eg repeated shoplifting etc. they are not in maximum security prisons. not all prisons have the facilities to allow women to have their babies with them.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Attached Mama View Post
Did you all see this article?

It's nice to see this sparking debate. I'm not an expert - but I've been researching this issue extensively for an article so let me try and answer your concerns:

I'm honestly having a hard time seeing how having babies in prison is a good thing. While the article says no harm has come to the babies, how can they be sure?

The prison this is talking about was specifically designed to house mother's and children. It is an eight room unit with guards watching. All the women on the unit have to be found fit to be there - only women who have been registered as approved caregivers were ever permitted to hold the babies.

Who would ever know if someone were molesting them? What is going to be the long term affects of being raised in prison?

The long term effects of being separated from incarcerated mothers are well documented: they stop breastfeeding, they lose their attachment and a good number of the infants end up in foster care, often permanently. The stats for the success of these programs are also well documented - the children develop normally and the mothers are significantly less likely to reoffend than the women who were separated from their babies.

What kind of attachment disorder will come from having to be separated from the only moms they have known once they hit a yr old or whatever?

This particular prison is for women who have sentences less than two years. In our federal prisons children are permitted to live with their mothers until they are 4 (although few do - for political reasons) after that they can spend weekends in specially designed cottages or have regular visits in segregated family areas.

Prison atmospheres are very harsh, very violent, lots of anger, yelling, swearing - not the most peaceful atmosphere for a baby. And what happens when the kid is older and says "Oh yeah - I spent my first ____ yrs of life in prison".

Statistics show that the babies and children change the atmosphere. That said we're talking about specially designed prisons. This one is layed out like a summer camp - the cottage unit has a lovely big yard.

Prison is not an ideal situation and I think people are trying to make it into one. IMHO it's not a place for a baby. People are in prison due to often serious problems. Why would we trust them with a baby? Yes, many people give up drugs for a child. Usually it is very short lived.

Women, who want to mother their children, when properly supported are capable of astonishing healing. If a woman's offense has notheing to do with parenting - why should her right to be a mother be extinguished? And keep in mind, in many places if a child goes into foster care for an extended period of time (between 6 and 12 mos in Canada) all parental rights are extinguished. So if a woman gets a sentence that exceeds this timeframe, and she doesn't have a relative who can step up - she loses her child.

What are your thoughts on it all? Is breastmilk the most important thing? Is being with the mom more important than the trustworthyness and atmostphere? I'm just thinking of my state's guideline to try to keep kids with their moms - out of prison moms - and how often it backfires and is even worse than foster care for those kids.
Your questions are good ones. I think that these programs only work when we value the kids (and the mothers) enough to give them the resources to be successful. It cost so much less to us as a society to have a prison with a strong parenting program help a mother develop her parenting skills.
 

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I think infants and young children should be allowed to be with mama in prison. They don't care where they are, only that they are with their mama. As for a harsh environment, I bet a baby would only do good there, and if it is too harsh mama and baby can be moved.
 

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I watched a documentary on this awhiel ago and foudn it actually to be a pretty cool setup. They are NOT in general population, they have a whole different area to live in with lots of supervision and parenting classes. And the women who got to participate were the ones who who had shorter sentences, not life long sentences. I think at a certain point as the kids got older they did leave to live with family or fostercare. But the ones who participated generally only had 1-2 years left on thier sentences.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Attached Mama View Post
Yes, the statistics are high for molestation even outside prison. I'm just thinking of the fact that most sex criminals are molested as "payback" in prisons and the fact that the guards look the other way. Prisons have their own "code" of what's acceptable and most prisoners think sex crimes toward children are not. But I'd wonder if those who were sex criminals wouldn't find the babies to be easy prey. Or if the babies parents were sex criminals.... I guess the article doesn't say if there are checks/balances in place for these sorts of things and they would def be needed I think.

What do you mean by a lot of women are imprisoned due to bad choices in trusting someone? I don't see how someone could be involved in a crime w/o knowing full well what the were doing (obviously exceptions to everything....)

I too think prison reform is really needed!! And a family friendly facility for minor non-violent crimes could be good - but babies in conventional prison ???

you will notice i didn't say babies belonged in a conventional prison, in fact, i don't think anyone did.

my comment about women due to trusting the wrong person was regarding the high numbers of women in prison on drug charges because they let a boyfriend or someone else keep drugs at their houses, they somehow helped a man they trusted in the perpetration of a crime and then took the fall. it isn't uncommon. of course women are capable of doing bad, even evil things, but i think it is silly to believe that all women in prison are bad and evil.

i see there is other good information in this thread about women in prisons, the types of programs really being discussed here, and the effects of separating women and children in prison.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by ceilydhmama View Post
Your questions are good ones. I think that these programs only work when we value the kids (and the mothers) enough to give them the resources to be successful. It cost so much less to us as a society to have a prison with a strong parenting program help a mother develop her parenting skills.

Wow! Ok, this program sounds totally different than the opinion I got from the article. At first glance, babies/children in prison sounds awful. A set up like they have sounds really great tho where the moms/babies are separated from the general prison populace and receive support so far as parenting classes. I wish the article or Mothering gave a bit more background... I'm all for prison reform and that sounds wonderful. I wonder why they are stopping it then? Is it a money issue? I'd think it would be cheaper than foster care.

Oh, and here in the US, it's VERY hard to get parental rights toward a foster child taken away. The policy is to always return the kid to their parents and every effort is made in that direction. It is not a good thing tho. Most all parents that kids are returned to are neglected/abused and end up back in foster care. Being available for adoption or a permanent foster home at a young age would be far better for these children. Would be nice to see a program somewhere between what the US and Canada have. Here kids end up in one home after another for their entire lives with no chance for attachment. It's awful! Just when they begin to attach to one family, it's back with the birth parents for a few months for another try.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Attached Mama View Post
Wow! Ok, this program sounds totally different than the opinion I got from the article. At first glance, babies/children in prison sounds awful. A set up like they have sounds really great tho where the moms/babies are separated from the general prison populace and receive support so far as parenting classes. I wish the article or Mothering gave a bit more background... I'm all for prison reform and that sounds wonderful. I wonder why they are stopping it then? Is it a money issue? I'd think it would be cheaper than foster care. .
It was politics, sadly. The informal program has been around since the 1970's but the number of women who were able to access it has always depended on the personal beliefs of the warden. Last February a new warden took over - she believes in a punitive model as opposed to a preventative/reform model so she declared the mother-baby program wasn't an official program and ended it.

Some good may come out of it yet - if the court case in BC goes ahead more provincial and federal prisons may be forced to meet the needs of women and their children.

I agree children need stable homes - I just believe the first line of support has to go to women who want to parent. I think if a woman steps up and says she needs support to take care of her children is fiscally and morally better to shower her with resources.
 
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