This research report bears powerful witness to the harsh impact on women and their children of the short custodial sentences too often meted out in the name of justice. It draws attention to the ripple effects of imprisoning mothers, and the turbulence it causes in the lives of their families.
This paper considers how maternal emotions and the maternal role are assembled and challenged through carceral space, and more specifically, how mothers themselves assimilate this experience whilst navigating motherhood post incarceration.
Women are a small but increasing minority of the 10 · 2 million people imprisoned worldwide. There are around 100 000 women in prison in Europe on any 1 day, representing 5 % of the total prison population. In the United States (US) there are nearly 215 000 women in prisons and jails, representing 9 % of the incarcerated population and an absolute increase of 30 % since 2000. Despite growing numbers, women’s minority status means that their specific health care needs and those of their children may be overlooked or remain unmet. A review from the United States found that 38 states had inadequate or no prenatal care in their prisons, and a 2008 report from US Department of Justice notes that 46 % of pregnant imprisoned women reported they received no pregnancy care. The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 2003 Moscow declaration recognises prison health as an important public health issue, and a 2009 WHO declaration acknowledges that current arrangements for dealing with women
Although women make up only a small proportion of the 9 million people imprisoned worldwide, their numbers are increasing rapidly and consistently across a number of countries. For example, the number of women imprisoned in England and Wales has risen almost threefold over the past decade. Most of these women will be of childbearing age and an estimated 6% of imprisoned women are pregnant. This implies that in England and Wales alone there are about 240 pregnant women in prison at any one time, and in the United States of America over 6,000.
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