The Lives of Incarcerated Mothers & Their Prison Children

Minor Visitation

Crystal’s* face glowed. “My mom is bringing my daughter for visitation tomorrow! Pray that everything will work out, and there wont be any fights that stop visitation.” Crystal had been coming out to jail bible studies for almost a month. Usually her face reflected her depression at her current circumstance. Each week she asked prayer for reconciliation with her family, and that she’d be a good mother to her daughter.

 Crystal is no exception to the rule for female inmates. Most female inmates are painfully aware of their separation from their children. They zealously guard their pictures. And the first request out of their mouths at prayer time almost certainly begins with “Pray for my daughter/son…” An anticipated visit gives them hope and a goal to look forward to during this difficult season.

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 Minors desperately need the inspiration and guidance that an involved parent provides. Visiting their incarcerated parent can provide this vital connection.

How many minors visit their mothers?

Unfortunately for most incarcerated mothers, around 60% never receive any visits from their minor children during incarceration. (Tewksbury) That means more than half are not given a chance to reconnect and rebuild or maintain their relationships with their children during their sentence.

What types of difficulties do minor visitors face?

Incarcerated mothers are not the only ones who look forward to these visits. Usually children are just as excited to see their parent. But, some parts of visiting an incarcerated mother may be difficult for a child.

 Often children wish to bring little tokens of love, which are viewed as contraband by the correctional staff. The child may also be used to more interaction than is allowed in the visiting room. Small children struggle with the long wait times prior to visitation time. Some fear being searched by prison guards or view the guards as the bad guys who took their parents away.

 

Despite these challenges, the benefits to a son or daughter reconnecting with his/her parent usually far outnumber the difficulties.

5 Benefits of Child Visitation

Here are just 5 of the many benefits:

·         Sharing with his/her parent the good and bad things he/she is facing encourages connection.

·         Contact encourages the child to continue to view the parent as one of their authority figures, making it easier to transition back into a parental role following incarceration.

·         Visiting helps the child not view the parent as a stranger.

·         Interaction with parent helps child process what is going on in his/her life.

·         Spending time with their child encourages an inmate to make choices that will help their family. Choices, such as not getting into disciplinary situations that might extend a sentence.

 
Do you know of more benefits that have not been listed? We’d love to hear from you! Share in the comment section below!

 
Interested in more from the perspective of an inmate’s child? Check out Renee Patterson’s book

*name changed
Citations:

Tewksbury, R., & Connor, D. (2012, December 1). Federal Probation Journal : December 2012 : Prisons, Community Partnerships, and Academia: Sustainable Programs and Community Needs. Retrieved October 2, 2014, from http://www.uscourts.gov/uscourts/FederalCourts/PPS/Fedprob/2012-12/visitation.html