Welcome to another week.
A study has found that 66% of women in prison are mothers with children under the age of 18 and 22% of those mums have children under five. Stats also tell us that 24% and 31% of all women offenders have one or more children who depend on them, and that in 2010, 17,240 children were separated from their mothers by imprisonment.
The article we’ve linked to above explains that when a mother is being considered for a custodial sentence, the rights of the child are engaged. In effect, the court is required to balance the potential impact on the child against the seriousness of the offence and the need to punish the offender, in this case, the mother. The article also offers research highlighting the often severe trauma children experience when their mothers are sent to prison and calls on the government to reassess the way it punishes offending mothers, who in the main are being sentenced for short terms, for less serious offences.
Our question then, is this: are the rights of the child engaged in the same way when a father is sentenced to prison?