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Maternal-Infant Incarceration - Sociological and Psychological Perspectives (From Women in the Prison System - Proceedings, P 115-158, 1984, Suzanne Hatty, ed. - See NCJ-98278)

NCJ Number
S E Hatty
Date Published
44 pages
This paper reviews the historical relationship between female criminals and motherhood; sociological and psychological perspectives of maternalism and incarceration are examined.
The understanding of female criminality dictates that deviant women constitute a risk to the effective socialization of their children. However, women convicted of criminal offense often report that separation from children is experienced as the most traumatic element of imprisonment. The failure of the criminal justice system to acknowledge the existence of the children of female offenders has been substantiated in several countries. Studies have indicated that maternal incarceration often< results in psychological damage to both mother and child. In a study conducted in South Wales, Australia, it was found that the typical female inmate is in her twenties to early thirties and is just as likely to be unmarried as to have been in a formalized heterosexual relationship. However, the percentage of female inmates in Australian jails with dependent children is presently unknown. Although policy initiatives were developed at a Conference of Ministers in Charge of Probation and Parole in 1978, the fate of the maternal-infant pair within the new South Wales prison system remains in a state of flux. Resolutions focusing on the dilemma of the cultural opposition of female criminality and maternity (and encompassing the adoption of practical recommendations developed by the revelant correctional and welfare professions) are presented. A total of 107 references are provided.