This paper reflects on a century of maternal imprisonment in the United Kingdom. Examining the historical context of incarcerated mothers, grandmothers and mothers-to be, it explores the relationship between patriarchy, religion, culture, motherhood ideology and criminal justice. Revealing how each has been and continues to be inextricably linked to frustrate, disadvantage and discriminate against mothers who break the law.

Drawing on the extensive research of the authors, this paper brings the conversation into the 21st Century. Centring the voices of mothers, the authors highlight mothers’ own experiences of their incarceration, revealing the profound hurt of imprisoned motherhood. The paper is concluded with recommendations drawn from research and activism.

By Dr Lucy Baldwin at De Montfort University and Dr Laura Abbott at the University of Hertfordshire.

Published in Prison Service Journal No. 257, November 2021.

Incarcerated Motherhood: Reflecting on 100 years of Imprisoning mothers
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