This week, Bustle posted a video featuring Senator Cory Booker and ex-prison mom Tiheba Bain. She talked about just how hard it is when parenting children from behind bars, something many on the outside take for granted.
Ex-Prison Mom: It’s Extremely Hard Parenting Children from Behind Bars
Tiheba Bain is an ex-prison mom. She served over a decade in a federal prison for a violent crime. Because of this, she didn’t get the chance to physically watch her sons grow up.
Parenting children from behind bars may not sound difficult. Many people who’ve never been in such a position think it’s an easy task. They assume that since someone else, on the outside, is actually “raising the kids,” their prison moms have it pretty good.
Being in Prison Doesn’t Stop Motherhood
But, this is simply not true, according to Bain. Many prison moms still want to be there for their children. They want to give them advise, chastise them, help with schoolwork, homework, sports, issues with friends, etc… She says:
“People don’t understand that when you take away the primary parent from a child, that child goes into crisis as well.”
Most of these incarcerated mothers are housed in prisons hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles away from their prison children. This makes it almost impossible for many of these imprisoned mothers to get prison visits from their kids. And, if and when they do, the visits are not very long.
So, prison moms must resort to short collect calls and letters to communicate and connect with their prison kids on the outside. Bain assures us that it extremely difficult when parenting children from behind bars.
Stats: Women in BOP and Their Prison Kids on the Outside
The BOP or Bureau of Prisons is under no legal obligation to place its federal prisoners near their kids. However, according to the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 80% of BOP’s women inmates are mothers.
Because of this, about 84% of the men and women in federal prisons who are parents, are housed over 100 miles away from their children. This is according to a Rutger University’s National Resource Center on Children & Families of the Incarcerated report.
Around 65% of the women inmates in U.S. jails and prisons have kids under the age of 18. In most of these cases, those women were the primary caretakers to these kids before they were imprisoned.
Here are a couple more facts related to women in prison and their children on the outside:
- America’s female prison population has increased by 716% since 1980
- Of all federal prisoners in custody in 2015, 12,953 of them were women
Video: We Should Be Ashamed of How We Treat Women in Prison
Today, we are making history here in the US. There more women in prisons in America than ever. But, the system has yet to catch up to this trend. Routinely, ladies in American prisons are:
- Denied tampons
- Tied down while they give birth to their babies
- Housed in prisons hundreds of miles from their kids
The video below was posted on Facebook by Bustle. In it, Senator Cory Booker talks about changing this for women parenting children from behind bars. Change could help to make the lives of women in prison better, as well as their suffering prison kids on the outside.
“Video conferencing is great and we need that for people who are here and your family’s here, but if you can place us closer to our families, that will give us a sense of humanization again,” Bain says. “That will bring a sense of dignity and so forth, and I’m not forgotten. Because we are the forgotten behind those walls.”