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Incarceration of Women with Children.

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Introduction

Incarceration of Women with Children Parents who are in prison face many problems in maintaining meaningful relationships with their children, and this is especially true for imprisoned mothers. Incarceration is the imprisonment of a person as a result of a crime they have committed. Although the length of imprisonment varies depending on the crime and the circumstances surrounding the crime, the fact remains that mothers who are in jail are separated from their children. It is impossible to describe how all children are affected by their mother's incarceration. The degree to which any child may be affected by his or her mother's imprisonment will be determined by their age, personality and the prior relationship with their mother. The type of care a child receives while their mother is in jail may vary depending on the length of time spent separated from their mother, and the opportunities they have for contact with their mother. These situations leave a profound impact not only on the imprisoned mother, but also her children, family, and friends. The most significant issue is the primary parenting role of the women prisoners and the social, psychological, and economic impact that incarceration has on her entire family. As a student entering into a career within the social service realm, it is vital to maintain an understanding of contemporary social issues. ...read more.

Middle

Depending on the child's age and mental capacity, this experience can cause the child to feel that they are responsible for what is happening. Children are, for the most part, not old enough to fully understand the reasons for their parent's behaviour and in some cases this behaviour is never explained to them. "About one in five children are present at their mother's arrest; half of these children are between three and seven years of age, and in their mother's sole care."8 At this tender age in a child's life the sight of a mother's arrest can have everlasting affects on the child who is uncertain of what to do or where to turn for help. The effects of such an experience may be particularly difficult to overcome for young children who have the abilities to understand traumatic events as they occur but have not yet developed the skills to deal with their emotional response to the trauma. The mother also might be in a situation where she is unsure of whom to leave her child with. This results in some children of arrested parents being "placed informally with their immediate or extended family members, with friends or neighbours, or in emergency private placements like crisis nurseries"9. ...read more.

Conclusion

Because we do not see the extent to which patriarchal culture allows, condones and even praises female dependence and submission to male dominance, often abusive dominance, we will not see how the victims of the system are created in the first place by poverty, or by lack of access to decent housing, adequate schools and health care, drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, jobs and childcare. There also appears to be a growing recognition that experience with the criminal justice system is intergenerational and that the children of incarcerated parents may be at greater risk than their peers for future involvement with the criminal justice system. Strengthening families should be the focus of coordinated effort between public and private agencies. Targeted resources and services must be made available to the mothers, their children, and the children's caregivers in order to promote positive family relationships. "When mothers are imprisoned they do not automatically relinquish their parental roles, obligations, or concerns."14 Although they may be separated from their children, they continue to care about their children's well being. Consequently, it is of vital importance to maintain the integrity of the family whenever possible. Coordinated efforts should be taken by the criminal justice and child welfare systems to ensure that mother and their children are able to sustain their relationships. If we continue to ignore the plight of imprisoned women and their children, generations to come may suffer the consequences. ...read more.

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