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NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Quarterly Issue: 4 Dated: (1993) Pages: 4-7
V Kingi
Date Published
4 pages
Inmates who are mothers should receive special consideration from the criminal justice system of New Zealand and other countries, because the financial and social costs of their incarceration are high and have impacts on the next generation.
The research literature reveals that female offenders are characterized by dependency on welfare, on alcohol or other drugs, and on the men in their lives. In addition, many women are imprisoned mainly for nonviolent property crimes or drug law offenses. Incarceration far from home places extreme strain on the offender's relationship with her family. Female inmates feel that enforced separation from their children is the most traumatic aspect of their imprisonment. New Zealand has three prisons for women and 131 sentenced female inmates, 65 percent of whom had children living with them before they entered prison. The majority were incarcerated long distances from their homes. Visiting is limited, although the women want to spend time with their children in quality surroundings. To improve this situation, female offenders should be handled in the community where possible. Successful programs can include work release centers, residential centers for low-risk female offenders, treatment programs for victims of physical or sexual abuse, residential programs for pregnant women or those with young children, and programs that meet offenders' needs for drug treatment or other services. For women form whom imprisonment is essential to protect society, enhanced visiting and communication facilities are needed.