Sir- As mums look forward to cards, flowers and hugs this Mother’s Day, imagine what it’s like for the thousands of children whose mothers are in prison.
Around 1,800 women in jail are separated from their children on the outside. The pain of that separation will be felt acutely this weekend.
Lots of prison and charity staff and volunteers will pitch in to support prison visits, to bring children together with their mums this Mothering Sunday. A practical solution at a difficult time of year, helping to keep families together.
Strong relationships are a bridge for people leaving prison, providing support and vital stability on release which significantly reduces the likelihood of reoffending.
But it’s time we stop doing ‘more of the same’. It isn’t working, holding us back as a society. The numbers of women locked up are double what they were 30 years ago and the government plans to build 500 additional prison places for women.
Most women are serving short sentences for non-violent crime, suffer from mental health problems and many have been victims of domestic abuse. Imprisoning mothers leaves a trail of chaos, with innocent children left as the collateral damage, harming their life chances.
Wherever possible, women must stay in their communities, with access to programmes to tackle the root causes of their crime. This is better at reducing crime and reoffending whilst keeping families together. Much better than a short prison sentence.
It’s simple common sense which benefits us all.
Nina Champion, Director, Criminal Justice Alliance
Ellen Green, Deputy CEO, Prison Advice and Care Trust
Sonya Ruparel, CEO, Women In Prison