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Children Imprisoned With Their Mothers: Psychological Implications (From Advances in Psychology and Law, P 399-407, 1997, Santiago Redondo and Vicente Garrido, et al., eds. -- See NCJ-175532)

NCJ Number
P D Jaffe; F Pons; H R Wicky
Date Published
9 pages
This paper explores the psychological implications of allowing young children to live in prison with their mothers for a period of time.
The imprisonment of mothers, more so than fathers, is a destabilizing event for young children and for the family as a whole. In addition, it raises legal, penal, social, and ethical questions to which no society has found satisfactory answers. One solution is to allow young children to live in prison with their mothers for a period of time. Until recently, this was done only when placing the child proved difficult; however, it occurs more and more often and is sometimes considered a progressive solution in the child's best interest. On the plus side, this approach recognizes the important bonds between mother and child and the crucial role their relationship plays in the child's development. On the minus side, some argue that a child should never be placed in a prison environment and that the child's best interest is better served by traditional alternatives such as foster care, adoption, and parenting by another family members. In addressing this issue, this paper compares how various countries apply penal sanctions to pregnant women and to their young offspring and describes how the distinctive prison setting may affect the mother-child dyad. From the perspective of the prototypical child, the authors speculate on some of the cognitive and emotional development consequences that can be expected. They propose various pragmatic changes designed to avoid detrimental consequences and to promote the child's and also the mother's mental hygiene. 24 references