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Let us Consider the Children

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Volume: 63 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2001 Pages: 66-68
Carolyn Engel Temin
Susan L. Clayton
Date Published
February 2001
3 pages
This article looks at the 1999 U.S. Department of Justice sponsored symposium on women offenders which brought together corrections officials, directors of private, nonprofit programs and some members of the judiciary which together with experts in the field explored the multiple topics on women offenders. Attention is called to some of the most pressing issues, incarcerated mothers.
This article suggests that each jurisdiction hold a symposium that mirrors the national symposium bringing together all the necessary participants, and to get everyone up to speed. The goal of such a meeting would be to devise an implementation plan. The purpose of the plan is not to sentence women more leniently than men but to respond to the special needs of women so they are not treated more harshly in the system. Suggested considerations when implementing a plan are: (1) presentence reports should contain specific information about their children and their placement if incarcerated; (2) the status of offenders as good parents should be taken into account during sentencing; (3) a women’s status as a mother might be taken into consideration when deciding on whether to send her to a county jail close to her home where her children could visit often; (4) follow-up counseling should be available to all who need it; (5) transportation should be provided at little or no cost enabling children to visit parents; (6) when a child is born in prison, the birth should be made as pleasant as possible; (7) there should be at least one institution in the state which a woman can keep her newborn infant with her; (8) there should be accommodations in every women’s prison for mothers to spend time living with their young children; (9) incarcerated women should be able to participate in parenting skills programs and appropriate drug and/or mental health treatment programs; and (10) upon release, women should receive assistance through the correctional system or outside organization for reuniting them with their children. Never before have there been so many parents in prison; nor have there been so many children affected by their parents’ incarceration having a profound effect on society when they reach adulthood.