Adela Beckerman



Women in Prison: The Conflict between Confinement and Parental Rights

In the United States and Canada most female prisoners are mothers. In the United States, women prisoners can be permanently separated from their children if they are unable to provide arrangements for childcare, or are unable to maintain regular contact. This article addresses the obstacles incarcerated mothers face in maintaining their parental rights. Expecting incarcerated mothers to adhere to the same standards of behavior as other natural mothers ignores the significant differences that exist. The net effect is that incarcerated mothers receive a “double punishment” for their offense: a prison sentence and the threat of the termination of parental rights, continuing a historical pattern of societal bias against, and hostility toward, imprisoned mothers.

prison confinement, parental rights

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 18, No. 3 (1991): 172-184


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