Book Launch: Maternal Imprisonment and Family Life

This event is organised by Women, Family, Crime and Justice (WFCJ) network. 

Natalie Booth, Bath Spa University

Dr Natalie Booth is a Senior Lecturer at Bath Spa University who works with women, mothers and families affected by imprisonment in England and Wales. During the seminar she will be launching her new book entitled ‘Maternal Imprisonment and Family Life; from the caregivers’ perspectives‘ which sheds light on the lived experiences of family members and friends as caregivers to children whose mothers were incarcerated. The key findings in the book will be presented, showing how the reach of the punishing and stigmatising ‘family sentence’ is far and wide, while the caregivers occupy a ‘disenfranchised social status’ through continued marginalisation in policy and practice. The book can be purchased for a discounted rate online as either an ebook (currently £5.59) or hard copy (currently £36.00) see –

Cara Jardine, University of Strathclyde

Families, Imprisonment and Legitimacy: the implications for gender equality

The title for this presentation came from a Tweet where I tried to summarise my argument in the permitted 140 characters, suggesting that I would examine: “why prison might be worse for women, children and gender equality than we thought”.

To support my argument that this is at least a question worth exploring, I will present some of the arguments I make in my recently published book: Families, Imprisonment and Legitimacy: the Costs of Custodial Penalties. Drawing on qualitative research with families affected by imprisonment in Scotland, I will suggest that supporting a person in custody is highly gendered. Furthermore, it brings people into regular contact with the criminal justice system which makes them materially poorer, places restrictions on their time and freedom, and sends key messages as to how they are valued by the state as citizens. Consequently, this reliance on the work of women to support our growing prison population risks entrenching not only gendered patterns of caring, but also the poverty and social marginalisation which is already disproportionately experienced by women.

Sinead OMalley, Director of SWRaP (Social Work Research and Practice) Independent Consultancy Service.

Dr Sinead O’Malley’s research area is on maternal imprisonment. While she has various publications, most are focused on giving voice to the incarcerated mother’s plight and circumstance. By contrast, this presentation will focus on a statistical dataset from #TheMothersProject, a participatory prison study published in 2018, which involved 97% of the entire female prisoner population in Ireland. #TheMothersProject answered an array of vital questions for the first time, for instance; how many women in prison are mothers; how many children they have; their ages; who are the child caregivers; who visits; who doesn’t; relationships and housing status. However, #TheMothersProject is reconsidering this dataset to explore differentials and similarities between Traveller and Non-Traveller mothers in prison, shedding light on areas whereby research findings may alter when ethnicity is awarded more consideration in the analysis.

As this is an online event you will need to bring your own light refreshments this time. Please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to be a future WFCJ speaker.

To register for the event visit the Eventbrite page.