Picture this out, a young breastfeeding mother in a courtroom waiting for a judge to make a ruling that finds her guilty. What lingers in her mind? Is it how prison will curtail her freedom or what will happen to the child while in prison? Who will take care of the child? In Mexico City, mothers in prison raise their babies from birth to six years of age.Advocates say that it is appropriate, but once a mother is serving a prison sentence, she must forego her parental rights, and the child should be under alternative foster care. Therefore, parents should not be allowed to raise their babies while in prison.
Programs like prison nurseries allow mothers to look after their infants while in jail, this program promotes the rehabilitation of the mother and equally provide physical attachment and secure environment for childs development. However, imprisonment is not the only way that separates a child from the mother, incidences such as death and maternal mental incapacity have led to the separation. When such situations occur, other alternative care such as adoption and foster cares Centers regularly offer solutions. The same should apply to the parents serving a prison sentence.
A prison is a restricted area with curtailed freedom and mothers are not allowed to mingle with the outside world freely. Bringing a child in jail is a direct infringement of childs fundamental rights because the mother is in prison under some conditions. Imprisoned mothers only mingle with fellow prisoners; an environment that may not be safe for the child. Unlike the outside world where a child can interact with close relatives and other kids, in prison the child has limited interaction, apart from mothers love, other inmates may not be interested. It may influences the mental development of a child negatively because early child development requires a secure care-giver. Childs mental development also depends on the upbringing environment which is a challenge in prison because prison environment is limited and a child may not interact freely with other kids.
Prison-care centers may be an alternative place than other foster care centers because of mother-child attachment but are they the best places to raise infants? What about health and psychological risks? Incarcerated mother may suffer from emotional constraints that can also affect her attitude resulting to anger and even depression because she understands well that prison is not the best place to up-bring the child. Cognitive-social skills of a child depend on the caregiver, and if the mother is not emotionally stable, the child can develop insecure attachment towards the mother. Mothers experiencing psychological constraints as prisoners can extend the same feeling to people around them thus negatively affect cognitive, social skills. Also, a child can develop negative thoughts that can even lead to a future life of crime because of prison exposure.
Bringing infants in prison violates their citizenship rights; its better to steer such babies towards adoption than raising them within the confinement of the jail. Even if every child has a right to a life-long relationship with the mother and vice versa, the prison set up is different from typical family structures because the inter-family relationship does not exist in prison. Mothers are likely to develop depression out of self-guilty and develop anger that can lead to insecure attachment with the child. Adoption, fosters care centers, and other community-based programs are the best solution than prison nurseries. Mothers should not be allowed to raise their babies in prison.
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