The Home Office website was also a good source of informstion in this regard. A very good article that shed light on the more negative view of Holloway prison as well as units in other prisons was Getting it right? Services for pregnant women, new mothers, and babies in prison. An extremely useful report that deals specifically with Holloway prison was REPORT ON AN UNANNOUNCED FOLLOW-UP INSPECTION OF HM PRISON HOLLOWAY 11 -- 15 December 2000
BY HM INSPECTORATE OF PRISONS. This report provide some telling and insightful data that invaluable in terms of assessing the value and function of the mother and baby units in this prison.
4. Theoretical aspects
There are many theoretical aspects that pertain to the issue of mother and child units at a prison such as Holloway. In general terms, and from a criminological perspective, there is the view that units of this kind are important in order to improve conditions for the female prisoners and to encourage as lower rate of recidivism after release. Related to this is the important issue of child care within and outside the prison and the general finding that children who are separated for their mother for long periods of time are more likely to drift towards forms of delinquent behavior.
There are also research studies that indicate that children who are deprived of a nurturing mother can develop developmental and other psychological problems that may translate into delinquent and criminal behavior; the obvious criminological aspect being the increase in the crime rate.
Central to these theoretical studies is the issue of the separation of the child from the mother. As Shamai and Kochal (2008) emphasize in their study entitled Motherhood Starts in Prison, "Studies have found that the children of women prisoners are typically raised by the prisoner's mother…The research regarding mothers in prison has centered mainly on the deleterious effect of separation on the children…" (Shamai, and Kochal, 2008, p. 323) This is an important aspect as some of the main findings from these studies are that, …most of the children are at high risk and suffer from low self-image, underachievement, high anxiety, depressive tendencies, and difficulties in building relationships. Furthermore, an estimated 10% become involved in delinquent behavior…" (Shamai, and Kochal, 2008, p. 323)
As noted above, this theoretical view has important implications for criminology as it tends to emphasize the usefulness of any aspects or implementations in the prison system that can ameliorate the negative aspects of separation. This refers in the case of prisons like Holloway to policy that enables closer contact between mothers and children and to the effective running of the mother and baby units. It also refers to other aspects of policy, such as the lengths of time that mother and child are allowed to remain together in the units.
However, an area where there has been less research focus is the effect of prison on mothers. While some studies have found no difference in levels of stress between mother and non-mothers in prison other studies have found that "…after six months of imprisonment the level of anxiety of the nonmothers had diminished, whereas that of the mothers remained unchanged." (Shamai, and Kochal, 2008, p. 323) Interviews that have been undertaken reveal that mother's stress levels are largely ascribed to the separation from their children.
An important finding with regard the central theme of this dissertation is that;
All of the studies on the experience of women raising their children inside prison emphasize the positive results of giving women prisoners the possibility to raise their children and to experience motherhood in a relatively safe environment, as compared with the dangerous and unsafe outside environment that constituted their former reality. (Shamai, and Kochal, 2008, p. 324).
From a theoretical point-of-view it has been realized in various studies that there are distinct psychological, ethical and practical advantages to increasing the possibility of care and contact between mother and child for those women who are incarcerated. As a report from the by the Home Office states, this includes"… the introduction of all day visiting schemes for children at certain prisons" and "A limited number of Mother and Baby Unit places have also been provided." (HOME OFFICE RESEARCH AND STATISTICS DIRECTORATE RESEARCH FINDINGS No. 38)
There are also a wide range of problematics that deserve theoretical attention and focus. This includes the fact that "The number of babies born to mothers in prison is rising…" and "…since prisons are often far from hospitals and expectant mothers must clear various security hurdles, women inmates are at greater risk of delivering their babies before they can make it to a hospital." (DRUMMOND, 2000)
Various human rights organizations such as Amnesty International have also expressed concern about the treatment of pregnant mothered in the prison system. This is an issue that will be explored in more detail with regard to the function of the mother and baby units in Holloway prison.
5. Holloway Prison
Holloway Road prison was originally constructed and opened in 1852. It was initially a mixed gender prison but became all female in 1902. The prison was rebuilt between 1971 and 1985. (Holloway) It is located in the Holloway area of the London Borough of Islington, in north and London"
. The Unit was revamped in 1992 and included cells to accommodate seventeen mothers and babies. It was equipped with two kitchens, a laundry, babies' washroom, a play area/nursery and a quiet area. (PRISON MOTHER AND BABY UNITS. Howard League for Penal Reform 1995)
The Mother and Baby Unit at Holloway Road Prison allows mothers to stay with their babies up to age of nine months. (Female Prisoners) This is in contrast to many of the units in other prisons that allow the babies to stay with their mothers for periods up to eighteen months. (Female Prisoners) Furthermore, "Every woman's prison has an appointed Mother and Baby Liaison Officer, who offers help and advice to applicants." (Female Prisoners)
However, one report indicated certain areas of concern in the administration and operation of this unit. "Information about the MBUs was not widely available to women on reception to prison and very few mothers had received the Prison Service leaflet about the units." (HOME OFFICE RESEARCH AND STATISTICS DIRECTORATE RESEARCH FINDINGS No. 38) These and other areas of concern regarding this unit will be expanded on in other section of this dissertation.
5.1. History and overview
The contemporary history of the mother and baby unit in Holloway is linked to a number of protests and law cases that motivated the review of these units. In 1998 Holloway prison was featured in the news as a result of a court case instigated by one of the mothers in the prison. This occurred when "… a mother in Holloway prison, north London, took the service to court after her newborn child was taken from her when she was denied a place in the jail's mother and baby unit." ( Burrell, 1998)
The result of this court case was that the Prison Service consequently announced a review of its mother and baby units. This review was concerned with the issue of looking at "…the very principles of holding mothers and babies in prison." (Burrell, 1998) There were other court cases that have highlighted the various aspect of the mother and baby units. Another concerned a woman in Holloway "… whose baby was taken from her at the age of five weeks after the mother was removed from the unit." (Burrell, 1998) These are issues that have raised concerns and debate about this particular unit but which also pertain to critiques of the mother and baby units in general.
While one may critique aspects of Holloway as being in need of attention it should also be borne in mind that it is "…a complex prison, in some ways more complex than any other in the country." (REPORT ON AN UNANNOUNCED FOLLOW-UP INSPECTION OF HM PRISON HOLLOWAY…) This is the view from an insightful report in Holloway prison that was published in 2000.
One of the reasons given for this complexity is that the prison accommodates all types of female prisoner, which includes "…16-year-old remands, sentenced young offenders, remanded adults, sentenced adults, short sentenced prisoners, lifers, mothers and their babies and those with psychiatric illnesses who really should not be in prison at all." (REPORT ON AN UNANNOUNCED FOLLOW-UP INSPECTION OF HM PRISON HOLLOWAY…) This obviously makes for a very complex and intricate system of control and administration in the prison. Furthermore the "…design of the prison, particularly the provision of dormitory cells, is unhelpful in trying to manage this disparate population." (REPORT ON AN UNANNOUNCED FOLLOW-UP INSPECTION OF HM PRISON HOLLOWAY…) These aspects will obviously have an effect on the running of the mother and baby unit.
It should also be noted that the mother and baby…
Sources Used in Document:
Burrell I. Jail baby units reviewed 1998 [Online] Available at: By