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WHY PUNISH THE CHILDREN? A REAPPRAISAL OF THE CHILDREN OF INCARCERATED MOTHERS IN AMERICA

NCJ Number
142844
Author(s)
B Bloom; D Steinhart
Date Published
1993
Length
87 pages
Annotation
This book presents new research findings on the children of incarcerated mothers; offers an appraisal of the needs of these children, their mothers, and their caregivers; and presents a national agenda for reform.
Abstract
Research shows that the number of women in the Nation's jails and prisons has tripled in the last decade. Three- fourths of these women are mothers, most with young children. A large number are pregnant when incarcerated. Some of these children go into foster care; some stay with relatives; many suffer deleterious psychological, emotional, and economic consequences; some will never live with their natural mother again. Based in the principle that the state must assume responsibility for these children, this book recommends that sentencing options be expanded to facilitate the maintenance of a relationship between female offenders and their children. It also recommends that the state assume a role in assisting the caregivers of the children of incarcerated women, whether they are relatives or nonrelated foster parents. Also, child welfare agencies should establish better mechanisms for the coordination of their reunification services with the correctional system. Further, correctional administrators and policymakers should adopt programs, policies, and procedures that encourage mother-child contact and family reunification, both during and after the mother's incarceration. Other recommendations focus on a sustained public education efforts regarding the problems of the children of incarcerated mothers and the responsibilities of lawmakers, judges, and corrections and welfare administrators at all governmental levels. Appended summaries of programs for women offenders and their children and a 32-item bibliography