When it comes to women and their children, the bond is something that seems unbreakable, until prison walls come between what should always be a solid connection. And, that’s why these prison kids are known as the Forgotten Victims of Crime.
Incarcerated Mom Doesn’t Always Equal Bad Mom
Sometimes, good moms find themselves in situations where they are incarcerated. When this happens, it’s the kids and family members who suffer the most, and too many times, the correctional systems in the United States don’t do enough to make things any easier.
New research is beginning to suggest that when children have parents who wind up in jail often, they, too, wind up becoming part of the correctional system. Many experts feel that in order to correct this, there need to be changes to how involved incarcerated mothers are able to be in their children’s lives.
Many things make spending time with mothers in jail or prison difficult for kids, from the fact that most little ones only get one hug. They are not allowed any contact with their children at all after that.
And, most incarcerated mothers are housed in institutions so far from their kids that most don’t get visits from them very often.
Women in Prisons: Stats Show Their Kids Are Effected
The number of inmates that our prison systems have seen since 1980 has gone up by over 500%. Women, unfortunately, are the fastest growing group of prisoners, with that number increased by over 700%.
When you consider that a full 2/3 of the women in the system are mothers, and single mothers at that, that is a lot of children who are left without their primary caretaker for one reason or other.
Prison Moms: The Cycles of the US School-to-Prison Pipeline
The truly sad part is that studies show that kids who have parents that are incarcerated are much more likely to struggle in school and turn to using drugs or alcohol, and may even wind up in prison themselves.
And, this is where the issues related to America’s school-to-prison pipeline come into play.
It’s a cycle that can be broken. Many feel that the difference for the children may just be when they are able to continue having contact with the parent that loves them, even when that parent is incarcerated.
Fortunately, some groups are beginning to take note of this problem and trying to do something about it. Through education, groups like The Marshall Project are filming videos with women who are formerly incarcerated, as well as their grown daughters.
They want to see what effect the time without their mothers had on their lives, and what it was like to try to visit.
Rising Up for the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act
Fortunately, lawmakers are finally starting to see the effect that a geographically distantly incarcerated mother can have on children. They are proposing to make it easier to stay close and connected with a bill in Congress called the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act.
If it passes, it will require that the Federal Bureau of Prisons takes into account the geographic location of children before assigning women to a prison. It would also:
- Change visitation policies for the primary caretakers
- Make it illegal to charge inmates for hygiene products that are essential
- Make handcuffing and solitary confinement for pregnant women illegal
For now, it’s taking groups that know what it’s like to try to stay connected to try to make differences in the lives of kids whose mothers are incarcerated.
Helping Children of Inmates Visit Their Moms in Prisons
If you’re a caretaker or family member of a child who should be seeing his or her incarcerated more, check out the Prison Ride Share App known as Prison Lifts.
It’s a great way to connect with others who are coming from your way headed to the prison your visit. Make sure to the little ones on your life stay connected to their moms while they are incarcerated. Get affordable rides to and from prisons.