On Monday, I published a report entitled “OITNB Reminds Us Having Moms in Prisons Really Hurts Prison Kids.” This is part 2 of that report… OITNB Reminds Us What Happens When Mom Goes to Prison
When mom goes to prison, being separated from her kids is probably one of the biggest obstacles that she faces. It can be quite difficult maintaining healthy relationships with children from behind bars.
Yet, parenting her kids from prison is generally a primary concern. Worrying about such issues can wreak havoc on a woman prisoner’s psyche and overall mental health.
And, prison visits are an entirely different issue for prison moms. Women prisons are scarce in this country. So, most inmates are housed hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles away from where their kids live.
That means, if they’re lucky enough to have caretakers for their kids who don’t mind bringing them to visit mom in prison, it’s usually just too far to travel to often… or even at all.
When Mom Goes to Prison: Unresolved Issues Upon Release
When mom goes to prison, everything changes for her children. And, upon her release, she may feel a deep desire to reunite with her children and get things back to “normal.” But, there are numerous other issues she must face in order to succeed and build a healthy family:
- Unresolved alcohol and/or substance abuse issues
- Unresolved mental health issues
- Unresolved traumas from the past
- Securing gainful employment
- Job/vocational training for gainful employment
- Overcoming stigma of being a felon in the job market
All of these are key factors for helping to prevent recidivism. When mom goes to prison, she becomes a statistic. It takes hard work, family support and determination to overcome and flourish in society as an ex-prison mom.
When Mom Goes to Prison: Nurturing Healthy Relationships
According to research, making it easier for them to nurture healthy relationships while in prison, can make reentry into society easier. Women can be positively influenced by relationships with family, friends, partners and of course, their children.
Research suggests that these influencers provide necessary tools that help decrease the likelihood of reoffending and recidivism, such as:
- Social capital
Today, the population of women prisoners is continuously growing in the US. That means, the population of prison mothers reentering society is starting to grow as well.
When Mom Goes to Prison: Reducing Recidivism Among Prison Mothers
Because of this, healthy relationship programs, marriage and family counselors, and other such service providers, are paying closer attention to the growing population prison moms. These types of programs, if ran correctly, have the potential to provide needed help for everyone affected when mom goes to prison, such as:
- Their children
- Their children’s father(s)
- Their children’s caregiver(s)
- Their parents
- Their siblings
- Their nieces, nephews and cousins
- The incarcerated mothers themselves
- Other prison loved ones affected by her incarceration
Some correctional institutions have even gone so far as to develop prison nurseries. When mom goes to prison while pregnant, this is where she’ll raise her baby from behind bars… literally. Although she’s only allowed to keep the baby for a short time, this still gives her a chance to bond with her child… and vice versa.
Statistics have shown that prison nurseries may help reduce recidivism among the prison moms population.
Orange Is the New Black & Real-Life Prison Daughters
Now you have a better understanding of what both women and their children go through when mom goes to prison. As a prison daughter myself, I have always looked at Orange Is the New Black differently than most viewers.
My favorite OITNB character to date is Dayanara Diaz. Just because mom goes to prison doesn’t mean all the mother-daughter issues from the past just dissolve themselves miraculously. Instead, we simply bury them until mom is released… one of my greatest fears.
But, in Dayanara’s case, she and her mom, Aleida Diaz are both inmates at Litchfield Prison. From the moment they graced the screen together, it was obvious they had some serious, unresolved mother-daughter issues. I couldn’t imagine being in prison, with my mom, while we’re both doing time.
In real life, however, when mom goes to prison, there’s nothing much to laugh at… and, that feeling remains for a while. Over time, we all learn to heal and move forward with our lives. But, for this prison daughter, life will never be the same.
And, hopefully, you will never view Orange Is the New Black from the same perspective again!