Irish Penal Reform Trust

UK: Counting the Cost of Maternal Imprisonment

25th October 2021

Counting the cost of maternal imprisonment, authored by Julia Pitman and Jessica Hull for Crest, focuses on the cost of female imprisonment for two particularly vulnerable groups; mothers who are imprisoned and their children.

The research found that a deep distrust of local authority social services, compounded by poor communication and information sharing, forms a significant barrier to engaging mothers with services that could help prevent them from offending and support prolonged desistance. The research also suggests that a significant cohort of mothers in the criminal justice system have had children removed from their care.

The research highlights that the effects of maternal imprisonment can be severe on children, leading to exclusion from school, increased vulnerability to exploitation, mental health issues and youth crime, ultimately leading to incarceration. Children, the research found, are not routinely offered targeted support to deal with the acute trauma of separation from their mother which could reduce the impacts.

The research suggests that, despite sentencing guidelines designed to ensure judges and magistrates consider sole or primary carer status as a mitigating factor, awareness of and application of these guidelines is low.


Read Counting the cost of maternal imprisonment on the Crest website here

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