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Age Limits for Babies in Prison: Some Lessons From Abroad

NCJ Number
D Caddle
Date Published
4 pages
Because little research has been conducted on the age of babies in correctional facilities, a postal survey was conducted in 1997 to assess the provision of services to imprisoned mothers and their children in Europe, North America, and Australia.
The survey found that 61 percent of women prisoners were mothers of children under 18 years of age. These mothers had a total of 2,168 children. In general, prison facilities that catered to older children tended to be located in open prisons where there was minimal security and were not typical of traditional prison settings. In cases in which older children were permitted, mothers tended to be trusted prisoners or those nearing release who had greater freedom and responsibility. Despite special acccommodations and facilities for children, the prison regime for mothers was generally the same as that for other inmates. In contrast to other countries that allow babies to remain with their mothers for relatively longer periods of time, four prisons in England have units that accommodate mothers and their babies until the babies reach 18 months of age. The Prison service often faces pressure to expand these facilities for older children, but accommodating older childen in English prisons will require substantial changes to existing institutional arrangements. In the interim, measures such as occasional overnight stays may be beneficial to mothers with children over 18 months of age. 3 references