Childbearing in institutions
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).
Data continues to show that women are entering the justice system at rates exceeding male offenders and bring with them extremely complex and multi-layered behavioral and physical health issues. While systems must make choices on how best to deploy limited staffing and programming resources, this broadcast series is an opportunity to explore methods of coordination between behavioral and physical health care. This broadcast is the 2nd offering in a two part series addressing health related issues with women in our nation’s justice systems. On August 15, 2012 the first in the two-part series “Health, Justice and Women: Transforming Systems—Changing Lives” was aired and explored research, strategies and resources designed to effect health care practices with justice-involved women.
This broadcast “Health, Justice, Women: Behavioral Health and Ob/Gyn,” held on February 20, 2013, will take a closer look at areas introduced in the first broadcast with a focus specifically on the complexities of behavioral, obstetrical and gynecological issue that impact all women in our justice systems. Through short lecture, slides, video, interviews, practical vignettes and introduction of a broad array of resources, we will address behavioral health issues and initiate discussion around ob/gyn issues that impact women through their lifespan but that often create broad challenges to our agencies. As part of those discussions, we will spend some time on reproductive health issues to include pre and post-partum issues as well as the use of restraints during pregnancy.
During this discussion, participants will: Explore how research from the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study, the National Prevention Strategy (NPS), and others can inform correctional health practices for justice-involved women; Explore models in correctional settings of evidence-based behavioral and women’s health services; Identify how professional health care organizations continue to contribute to correctional health care for women; and Initiate agency-based conversations regarding creation of and/or enhancement of health care practices for women. Also included are the PowerPoint slides from the presentation and the Participant Guide.
Do you need detailed information about how to manage inmate mothers? Then this publication is for you. It “provides an overview of pregnancy- and child-related legal questions concerning justice-involved women that can be raised in correctional settings … Understanding how family-based legal issues affect women offenders is important in designing programs to ensure the best outcomes for women and their children, not just in jail or prison settings but also in probation, parole, and community correctional settings” (p. vii-viii). This document is comprised of seven chapters explaining: the framework for addressing legal claims of justice-involved women; the use of restraints on pregnant inmates; prenatal care in correctional settings; pregnant inmates’ abortion rights; female inmates’ proximity to family; visitation rights for inmate mothers; and the effects of child-related collateral consequences on incarcerated mothers and their children.