The imprisonment of many mothers serving sentences for non-violent and relatively minor crimes should be ended and community women’s centres used instead, according to research that has found separation can increase the risk of children being exploited and cost hundreds of thousands of pounds for just a single case.

A report from UK crime and justice consultancy Crest Advisory, called Counting the Cost of Maternal Imprisonment, has tracked the impact of the imprisonment of mothers on both them and their children and, for the first time, worked out the financial cost.

One of the cases that was tracked involved a mother convicted for drug possession with intent to supply. This led to her child being placed in care in a placement the child is at high risk of absconding from. The cost of imprisoning the mother and providing care for her child while she was incarcerated was almost £265,000.

Along with the devastation felt by mothers about being forcibly separated from their children, the impact on their children can include school exclusion, suicide attempts, increased vulnerability to exploitation, mental health issues and youth crime.

The Ministry of Justice does not collect comprehensive data on how many imprisoned women have children or on the number of children affected by maternal imprisonment. It is thought that the total could be as many as 17,000 children each year in England and Wales.

Only 4% of the prison population is female. The majority of women are jailed for non-violent offences. In 2020 72% of women were imprisoned for non-violent offences and 70% sentenced to less than 12 months in prison.

Some mothers hid the fact that they had children from social services when other family members were caring for them for fear that officials would put their children into care.

The research includes interviews with mothers who have been in prison, adults who describe the long-term impact of them of having their mother imprisoned during their childhood and various professionals and charities working with women in prison.

The report also conducted the first comprehensive polling of public attitudes towards the imprisonment of mothers.

More than half of a nationally representative sample of 2,573 adults polled in August 2021 said that funds earmarked for 500 new women’s prison places should be diverted to supporting more women with convictions in the community and three-quarters said that children separated from their imprisoned mothers should be offered counselling. However, more than a quarter said their support for a custodial sentence for a non-violent sentence increased if the woman was a mother and more than a third said that their opinion didn’t change if the woman was pregnant at the time.

The report recommends that mothers should only be imprisoned as a last resort with community-based women’s centres used as an alternative for many women with convictions along with intensive support for children whose mothers are imprisoned.

Julia Pitman of Crest Advisory, co-author of the report with Jessica Hull, said of imprisoning mothers. “Ultimately it is children who pay the highest price, left with the trauma of separation, which can have devastating consequences. Rather than building more prison places for women, the government must implement its own female offender strategy and invest in community alternatives that will keep families together.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “While our view remains that custody should be the last resort for most women, a decision which is made by independent judges, we have made significant improvements to support female offenders.”

Source: Jailing of most mothers for non-violent crimes should stop, says report

Jailing of most mothers for non-violent crimes should stop, says report - Click To Share

Other recent press releases

*This is a free press release. All upgraded press releases are ad-free!

DATE AI Show: Unveiling Saudi Arabia’s Global AI Influence

The DATE AI Show, co-located with DATE FinTech Show, is scheduled for December 11th and 12th, 2023 in Riyadh, bringing leading AI experts, innovators, investors, policy makers and entrepreneurs to showcase the Kingdom’s role in the global AI-led digital transformation. Saudi Arabia, December 5, 2023 — Saudi Arabia is solidifying its role as the vanguard

Web3 Gaming Accelerator ICC CAMP by ABGA Officially Launches in Hong Kong with Opportunities for…

ICC Camp invites venture capital corporations, chain ecosystems, CEX/DEX ecosystems, gaming professionals and developers, media representatives, player communities, and other groups interested in the Web3 gaming ecosystem to join as founding partners. The objective is to collectively build ICC Camp, which is committed to cultivating and empowering future entrepreneurs in the Web3 gaming industry. Paving

Showcasing the Elite: Luxury Lifestyle Awards Names Top 100 Winners in Six Categories

Luxury Lifestyle Awards, a renowned global award selecting, recognizing, and celebrating the best luxury goods and services all over the world, is proud to announce the release of its highly anticipated TOP 100 Winners lists for the year 2023. These lists showcase the most distinguished, reliable, and trusted representatives in the luxury industry across six