Monthly Archives: May 2016

Fathers, imprisoned mothers and ‘babies behind bars’ by Elaine Farrell

Sheahan II

David Cameron spoke earlier this year of his desire for the ‘wholesale reform’ of the UK prison system. He explained:

A sad but true fact is that last year there were 100 babies in our country living in a prison. Yes, actually inside the prison. In the prison’s mother and baby unit, to be precise. Prison staff do their best to make these environments pleasant. Some units even have special sensory rooms, so that babies can see colours, sights and sound – even nature – that they wouldn’t otherwise see inside the grey walls of a jail. I understand why this happens. But we should ask ourselves: is it right? When we know the importance of the early years for child development, how can we possibly justify having babies behind bars?

The presence of babies in the prison system is not a new phenomenon and neither is Cameron’s concern particularly novel. Continue reading