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Enhancing Care for Childbearing Women and their Babies in Prison

Accession Number: 031409
Media Type: 
Document

This report explains how mothers and their babies can benefit from being held in a prison-based Mother and Baby Unit (MBU). "All available research suggests that the struggles of childbearing women in prison are extremely complex. And whilst their babies represent a relatively small proportion of all children affected by maternal imprisonment, they are arguably the neediest and most vulnerable group. This report documents the findings of a collaborative research project … The project aimed to map current knowledge and research evidence on childbearing women in prison and their babies and to transfer this learning into policy and practice" (p. 5). Findings from this study cover: current provision for childbearing women in prison and their babies; decision-making and unavailability of MBU places; mother and baby relationship during MBU residence; what happens when mothers go to prison and do not secure an MBU place; mother and baby relationship when separation occurs; reentry (resettlement) and reunification issues—Re-Unite being a good practice example; impact of MBU residence on re-offending; the changing landscape of the female prison estate—custodial changes in prison hubs, and community changes; and concerns arising from the research. Some of the recommendations made include: "Effective and tailored alternative sentencing options for mothers of young children need to be available; … The benefits of MBUs need to be actively promoted to external staff, to mothers and also to non MBU prison staff; Mothers in prison need programmes which address self-esteem and healthy relationships; Intensive support packages, with a strong therapeutic focus should be put in place for women who have had their babies adopted, during the mother's prison sentence and continued post-release; … [and] Release from prison needs to be viewed as a process not as an event. The sentence planning of women prisoners who are also mothers needs to include parenting support on release and a 'whole family' approach where appropriate" (p. 5).

Enhancing Care for Childbearing Women and their Babies in Prison cover