I am not here to sugar coat the impact faced by a mother, wife, husband and every family members as a result of incarceration of their love ones. It was hard, It was heartbreaking and there were times that I just could not find the strength to get out of bed. I felt like dying, I have gain strength standing on God’s word in Matthew 6 verse 33 Seek first the kingdom of God and all of his righteousness and all other things will be added onto you. I gain strength knowing greater is he that is in me than the disappointments, the heartbreak the pain the shame. Someone once said to me a mother is like a sponge, you never know just how much you can absorb until your thrown into water. Trusting God who has told me, I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me lets begin.

Family members of incarcerated individuals are often referred to as “hidden victims” — victims of the criminal justice system who are neither acknowledged or given a platform to be heard. Us as hidden victims receive little personal support and do not benefit from the systemic societal mechanisms generally available to direct crime victims, despite their prevalence and their similarities to direct crime victims.

Children whose parents are involved in the criminal justice system, in particular, face a host of challenges and difficulties: psychological strain, antisocial behavior, suspension or expulsion from school, economic hardship, and criminal activity. It is difficult to predict how a child will fare when a parent is intermittently or continually incarcerated, and research findings on these children’s risk factors are mixed.

However, research suggests that the strength or weakness of the parent-child bond and the quality of the child and family’s social support system play significant roles in the child’s ability to overcome challenges and succeed in life. Therefore, it is critical that correctional practitioners develop strong partnerships with law enforcement, public schools, and child welfare agencies to understand the unique dynamics of the family in question and try to ensure a safety net for the child and successful re-entry for the incarcerated parent.

This article summarizes the range of risk factors facing children of incarcerated parents. It also cautions against universal policy solutions that seek to address these risk factors but do not take into account the child’s unique needs, the child’s relationship with the incarcerated parent, and alternative support systems.

The UK prison population is on the increase, and has been steadily rising for a number of years with no signs of decreasing. The Government says that since 1945, the total prison population increased from around 15,000 to more than 86,000 – and has almost doubled since 1993. This can be found on the Gov.uk for your perusal.

When the parent is a strong support in the child’s life, the interruption of the child-parent relationship will lead to or exacerbate many of the issues or risk factors already discussed. Conversely, in some cases a child might benefit from the removal of a parent who presented problems for the child. Any attempt to facilitate contact between the incarcerated parent and child should consider the quality of the relationship the child had with the parent before incarceration. Visits while the parent is in the facility seem to do little to build a relationship if there was not one prior to incarceration.

Research shows that visits by family and loved ones reduce recidivism among incarcerated individuals and that strong family support is one of the biggest factors in a successful re-entry experience. But when it comes to a child’s visits, the results are once again mixed. One study reviewed the literature and found that when the parent and child have a positive relationship, visits encourage attachment and promote a positive relationship after release. When the parent and child had no relationship prior to incarceration, however, visits do not seem to be enough to promote a positive relationship.

The government has successfully utilized the ecological systems model, family systems model, and the rational choice theory to not only identify but also comprehensively explain the effects of incarceration on mothers, fathers and their children.

Regardless of the causality of the effects, it is clear that addressing the problem of incarceration and its challenges on mothers and their children require multi-dimensional efforts that take into consideration the theoretical interpretations of these challenges.

It is only by doing so that social workers and other relevant stakeholders will be able to develop the capacity to execute effective intervention measures that address the root causes and provide viable solutions.

One thought on “Dealing with incarceration as a mom

  1. lawrence says:

    Thank you for the post. It is encouraging for the moms

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