Incarcerating Motherhood explores how initial short period in prisons can negatively impact mothers and their children. We have much yet to understand about the enduring harms caused by first time incarceration, especially for minimal time periods and for mothers with dependent children. With large numbers of female prisoners currently incarcerated for short periods in England and Wales (either on short sentences or remand), many of whom are primary caregivers, this book asks: what kind of impact does this imprisonment has on both parent and child in the long term?

Based on original research, the experiences of sixteen mothers are presented to voice the material, physical and emotional consequences of short-term imprisonment. The book explores to what extent these mothers lose their sense of identity in a short space of time, whether this continues to affect them post-custody, and what level of support they are provided during and post-custody. This book also explores what bearing the initial separation and the care provided during the mother’s absence will have on their children’s lives, as well as whether the affects of imprisonment on the mother also increase the vulnerability of her children.

Incarcerating Motherhood provides a platform for readers to hear how a ‘short sharp shock’ can cause enduring harms to an already vulnerable group in society and how even short-term imprisonment have long-lasting and multi-dimensional consequences.

part I|2 pages

Providing the context

chapter 1|7 pages

Why women? Why mothers?

chapter 3|9 pages

Giving the unheard a voice

chapter 4|22 pages

Maternal pains of imprisonment

part II|2 pages

Material consequences

chapter 5|11 pages


chapter 6|17 pages

Education and employment

chapter 7|16 pages


part III|2 pages

Consequences to health and wellbeing

chapter 8|10 pages

Physical health

chapter 9|9 pages


chapter 10|33 pages

Psychological harm

part IV|2 pages

Forgotten victims of crime

chapter 11|19 pages

Being mothered from a distance

chapter 12|9 pages

Pre-existing disadvantages

chapter 13|22 pages

Intensifying or minimising harm

chapter 14|14 pages

Conclusions and recommendations