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And I thought I was having a rough day. Here’s a report on women parenting babies in prison.

The report looks at a number of different programs that allow mothers and babies to stay together while the women serve their prison sentences. Laying aside one’s feelings about the efficacy or ethics of locking people up for non-violent crimes, programs that allow moms and babies to stay together seem like a great step toward breaking the cycle of poverty-crime-prison that many of these babies are born into. That’s a boon not just to the individual mothers and babies, but to all of us.

I was upset by the general tone of commentary on Feministing’s post about this. A lot of people were critical of these programs because they saw them as inappropriately privileging mothers over women who don’t bear children but might have other worthwhile things to do with their lives. I get that, but I think it misses the point that these programs are at least as much about the babies as they are about the women.

Several people said that mothers have no special relationship to newborn infants, and that anyone can care for a newborn as well the biological mother can. I don’t think that even warrants a response, and were I to attempt one it would be in language too colorful for this blog.

What I did not see, and am interested in, is perspectives from women who’ve been in prison, or those whose mothers were. If you’ve had that experience, or been close to people having that experience, I’d love to hear your perspective in the comments.


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