Women raising children from behind prison bars

Women raising children from behind prison bars

About 70 per cent of female prisoners are primary caregivers, some are mothers to young babies. What is life like for mums behind bars? Reporter EMILY SPINK meets two.

22 Ekim 2016 - 00:00
Reklam

Within the four walls of her home, Katie* is as free to play as any other baby would be.

Baby photos are pinned to the walls and framed by pink and purple paper. Her toys, clothes, shoe collection and bedding continue the pretty colour scheme.
She giggles and pulls faces at all the familiar and strange faces that appear at the door.

But out every window looms the razor-wire fence.

Hayley* is one of three women currently in the mothers with babies unit at Christchurch Women’s Prison.

The self-care unit that she and Katie share with one other mum, is located within the secure perimeter of the prison.

Since the unit was upgraded in September 2011, to enable babies to stay with their mothers until they turn two, 28 women and their babies have been through.

Hayley has served more than a year of her sentence for being party to a burglary. Katie was just six weeks old when Hayley went to prison.

Hayley, is in her mid-twenties and has been in prison before. She knew about the self-care units, but had not seen them.

She pictured her baby growing up from behind barred windows.
“It was the last place I wanted me and my child to be, that’s for sure. I didn’t actually think you could have your kids in here.”

She and Katie have moved twice during her time in the unit, and lived with seven different flatmates.

“You just adapt like anything. Obviously I got to see what it was like when I came in and it was pretty cool to see the house and that there were no bars on the window.

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