mothers (and babies) in prison

 

 

re:

“Raising babies behind bars: A bold experiment in parenting and punishment is allowing children in prison. But is that a good thing?”

by Justin Jouvenal

The Washington Post

May 11, 2018

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2018/05/11/feature/prisons-are-allowing-mothers-to-raise-their-babies-behind-bars-but-is-the-radical-experiment-in-parenting-and-punishment-a-good-idea/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.b4e939ea676a

 

 

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The article notes:

Hundreds of pregnant women give birth while serving time each year. Most of them must endure the horrible experience of giving up their newborn almost immediately after the baby is born. Can you imagine how devastating emotionally this must be?

Destiny Doud, featured in the Washington Post article, is serving a 12-year sentence for bringing methamphetamine across the Illinois state line. Her daughter Jaelynn’s father is also in prison. He got a lengthy sentence for meth trafficking.

Ms. Doud and her daughter are in the Decatur Correctional Center in Illinois. Ms. Doud was allowed to participate in a Moms and Babies program at the prison, which allows some incarcerated women who give birth in custody to keep their newborn infants with them while they serve their sentences.

The children are allowed to leave the prison only to attend pediatrician appointments.

The practice of shackling pregnant women during childbirth is common in prisons, although some states have done away with it.

 

 

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My thoughts:

 

Prison is not the place for these babies. Or their mothers.

Which is not to say, if they have been incarcerated, that mothers should be separated from their babies. (Or fathers. What about them?)

Destiny Doud is a drug addict. (The article notes that she has been participating in a treatment program at the prison). She attempted to finance her addiction by selling drugs. This is NOT a horrible crime, if it is a crime, notwithstanding how society views it.

How about compulsive gambling? Sexual addiction? Alcoholism? If we are going to treat drug addicts as the lowest of the low, deserving of draconian punishment — including the unspeakable, inhuman (note that I didn’t say inhumane) practice of separating mothers from their children (and imagine what harm it does emotionally to the children), why aren’t other addicts treated the same way?

I had a neighborhood friend growing up whose mother was an alcoholic. He lived with his birth mother and a stepfather. The mother’s behavior at times was probably embarrassing to him, because she would be observed totally drunk and falling down in public.

Should she have been locked up to “teach her a lesson.” To remove a “scourge” like her from society? Depriving my friend of a parent. I guess you might say, she drank mostly in the privacy of her home and wasn’t a “rum runner.” Whereas Destiny Doud, featured in the article, was not only an addict; she was caught trying to transport drugs across state lines for the purpose of making a sale. Let’s say she had succeeded. She would have enabled other addicts to procure drugs and would have made money, which she needed to support her habit. Not edifying behavior, but was the harm done to society (or that might have been done; she was stopped and arrested) such that she should have been subjected to practically the cruelest punishment, short of a gruesome death, that a woman can be subjected to?

 

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As I argued in my post “drugs”

 

https://rogersgleanings.com/2017/02/23/drugs/

 

Addictions are not pretty and have harmful consequences, mostly for the individual. They can harm that person emotionally and financially and often have similar deleterious effects on one’s family and loved ones. They do minimal social harm and should not be treated as crimes. Singling out drug offenders for prosecution is wrong and harmful — to us, the public; to society, aside from the undeserved consequences for offenders. It has filled up our jails with mostly nonviolent offenders. The offenders in this horrible scenario are the prosecutors and jailers, not the supposed criminals.

 

 

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The following are some comments by readers of the Washington Post article.

And, you wonder why the “criminal justice” system can’t be reformed, if not done away with.

 

Let’s hope the reporter becomes the victim of theft then let’s see how “minor” he thinks it is. Wonder if he edited the copy the DNC sent him or filed the story verbatim.

 

Prison is exactly where these criminals should be. Prisons are expensive so they should be outsourced to Mexico.

 

Sounds like dumb solution. You don’t get special privileges for being a criminal.

 

No one is jailed for being addict. They are jailed after being found guilty of crimes.

 

Just as there is fake news there is fake research. Some goofy bleeding heart emotional marshmallow social worker fabricated research to reward junkies and pushers and other criminals so they can keep their babies in with them in prison. Never mind the harm it does to the kids and society to have criminals raising the kids.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   May 2018

About Roger W. Smith

Roger W. Smith is a writer and independent scholar based in New York City. His experience includes freelance writing and editing, business writing, book reviewing, and the teaching of writing and literature as an adjunct professor. Mr. Smith's interests include personal essays and opinion pieces; American and world literature; culture, especially books and reading; classical music; current issues that involve social, moral, and philosophical views; and experiences of daily living from a ground level perspective. Besides (1) rogersgleanings.com, a personal site, he also hosts websites devoted to (2) the author Theodore Dreiser and (3) to the sociologist and social philosopher Pitirim A. Sorokin.
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