1. Should serious female offenders be allowed to maintain regular contact with their children, or should separation be considered part of their punishment?
2. Do mothers lose their parenting rights when they have committed a crime? Under what circumstances? Include a discussion according to Macionis and Gerber (2011) the attachment theory of sociologist Travis Hirschi. Do your support the penal system?
3. Co-correctional institutions have been widely proposed as a partial solution to the special problems which women face in the penal system. Do you support such institutions, or should prisoners continue to be generally segregated by gender?
4. In the past, biological and psychological explanations of criminality were more popular than sociological ones. Why do you think this is? Has it changed?
5. Please look at the Programs available for Corrections Services Canada through the following link. https://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/text/prgrms-eng.shtml . Specifically looking at Women’s Offenders Programs, what is available for incarcerated mothers to help foster relationships with their children? (Identify at least 3 programs and explained them.
1. The English dictionary defines punishment as infliction or imposition of a penalty as retribution for an offence (Lessing, 2013). Individuals who have committed certain crime are legally in custody as a punishment for their crime or while they are awaiting trial. This act can be called as rehabilitation or the action of reinstating an individual to regular life trough therapy and training after the imprisonment or addiction. However, in Canada the female offenders committing serious crimes are known to be sent to the punishment, but now the country has opted for the later rehabilitation part.
Detention of convicts and specifically female offenders without the ability to have access to their loved ones, in this case children, presents two major challenges namely: one, it creates a void or a space that consciously reminds the convicts that they are no longer in their areas of comfort they are used to, hence reinforcing the punishment to a level where the convicts or the offenders makes a decision not to commit crime again (Warner, 2015). If the convicts are provided an environment where they are unable to meet their children, works as a motivation for them to behave in a proper way with the desire to reunite with the children and other family members as soon as possible. This specific scenario enhances the rehabilitation of the convicts immensely.
On the flip side, if the children are allowed to interact with the incarcerated mothers, being primary caregivers to them, the mothers may confer their wrong behavior to the children or the children could acquire, inherit and/or enhance any acquired bad behavior from the mothers and/or the prison environment (Fuentes, 2014). However, the innocent children have been entirely deprived of their parental care, if they stay without interacting with their parents for extended period. Psychologists have noticed that these children tend to be traumatized in their later life as not interacting with their parents in the early life can be equal to a punishment for them as well. In addition to being deprived of their motherly love, the children are put into the custody of their relatives as their primary caregiver in place of their parents.
Secondly, if children are allowed to interact with their mothers in the prison, it is possible for the mothers to migrate certain wrongly acquired behavior into them in the early age. As stated by the attachment theory of sociologist “Travis Hirschi”, it is correctly stated that strong social attachments encourage conformity while weak ones leave people freer to engage in deviance (Warner, 2015). Mothers play a very important and vital role in the character development of their children. They feel utterly responsible for the behavioral character of the child and therefore are less likely prone to reoffending if they are well socialized in their setting. Serious female offenders should thus be permitted or allowed to have regular contact with their children in order to enhance bonding among them.
2. When mothers commit a crime, they do not necessarily lose their rights to parent (Carlen, 2013). However, in circumstances where the behaviours of such mothers are bound to have a negative impact on the effective upbringing of their children, then ultimately, such parents lose their rights to parenting (Benning & Lahm, 2016).
Taking away parental rights from anyone is a serious step and this decision can only be taken by the judge if it is in the best interest of the children. In Canada, there are several grounds of involuntary termination of parental rights, such as, severe neglect or chronic abuse to the child, failure of maintaining contact with children for a long time or failing to support the child. However, a parent can lose his/her parental rights after being convicted of some crime. If the parent has committed a crime with violence against the child or any other family member, the court can opt to terminate his/her parental rights. Also if the parent needs to be imprisoned for a long length of time with will eventually take the child to the foster care for not having any other alternative options, the parent can lose his/her parental rights. In all such cases the interest of child is always put at the first. According to Evans & Cubellis (2015), throughout the legal procedures, the legal system seeks to protect the children especially the young children who are unable to evaluate the circumstances therefore the decision is always taken to the best interest of the children.
The social theory of Travis Hirschi comments on this situation where it sees the crime as the consequence of social institutions losing its control over the individuals (Pratt et al., 2014). It also states that breakdown of social institution such as weak families enhance the breakdown of trust in the police and government, thus enhance the chances of crime rates. It also states that the potential to the criminal activity rises if the individual attachment to the family is loosened. Thus this theory does not support the loosing of parental control.
3. The world is more inclined towards masculinity or the male gender than feminist or the female gender. This is attributed to the fact that the two genders needs or requirements are quite different from each other. This has an impact or effect on the type of crimes each of the two genders commit. Whereas male offenders are usually motivated with violent crimes that propel them to positions of power such as homicide, women offenders on their side are obsessed with less violent crimes such as assault and even fraud, etc. For this reason, it could be extremely difficult to classify crimes as equal among inmates (Brezina & Agnew, 2015). Co-correlation facilities separate women and men inmates. Though some of them allow some significant interaction between the two genders, some have completely secluded incarceration facilities for the different gender.
Earlier on in the US, there were coed institutions that were comprised of both inmate genders. These were however later separated in the 19th century. It only emerged several years later to serve as a method or mechanism to cost effectively serve prisoners (O'Brien, 2014). This mode of inmate coexistence is however not taken as an ideal or conducive environment for the inmates.
Women are however the lesser number when it comes to the number or population in prison. With the special needs such women require, they have been accorded lesser access to prison resources and facilities as opposed to their male counterparts (Motz, 2016). There is need to identify and/or recognize the special and unique needs of women inmates in these incarcerations or prison facilities such as provision of homely environments for the women inmates to raise their children as practised in Australia or provide lodging facilities as suggested in Canada (Evans & Cubellis, 2015).
4. There lacks a detailed research as criminality pertains to the two fields, biology and psychology. Whereas in psychology, criminality encompasses or includes more of the physical features, it is more associated with personality traits and inherited genes in biology (LeBel et al., 2016). There is much that needs to be done to properly link criminality to the three major fields of psychology, biology and sociology.
The biological explanation to the criminality entirely focused on the genetic predisposition and the psychological explanation focused on the individual abnormality. These theories aimed to the physical or biological issues of the children, whereas the sociological explanation of deviance indicates that the deviance of the social norms is mostly influenced by the association of people in his or surroundings. The primary reason is that individuals receive a mixed message from different groups and ends up following the favorable one. This sociological explanation provides a clear account to the criminality which is not caused by any biological or psychological issue rather caused by the sociological deviance of the individual (Pratt et al., 2014). This norm has changed the previous explanation of criminality and provided a new theory to the criminality.
5. The Circles of Change Program
This program was implemented in 2001-2008 in order to deal with the needs of the Aboriginal female offenders. This program promoted healing with the help of traditional medicine and teaching. It aimed to help the inmates have a clear understanding of the aboriginal history in Canada, social injustice and their impact on their personal lives, and the circumstances in the early life that can lead to criminal behaviour.
This is a report published in 1990, which have defined the newly adopted correctional philosophy for the women inmates. This report included several principles on women empowerment, responsible choices and many more.
The Parenting Skills Training Program
The program has sixteen sessions, each of two hours and aimed mostly at the female inmates who want more effective involvement with their children. The program was designed to deal with several cognitive problems of the offenders and helped them to deal with understanding the job of a parent in the family and the responsibility comes with being a parent and the consequences.
Benning, C. L., & Lahm, K. F. (2016). Effects of Parent–Child Relationships on Inmate Behavior: A Comparison of Male and Female Inmates. International journal of offender therapy and comparative criminology, 60(2), 189-207.
Carlen, P. (Ed.). (2013). Women and punishment. Willan.
Correctional Process. (2017). Csc-scc.gc.ca. Retrieved 11 February 2017, from https://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/text/prgrms-eng.shtml
Evans, D. N., & Cubellis, M. A. (2015). Coping with stigma: How registered sex offenders manage their public identities. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 40(3), 593-619.
Fuentes, C. M. (2014). Nobody's child: the role of trauma and interpersonal violence in women's pathways to incarceration and resultant service needs. Medical anthropology quarterly, 28(1), 85-104.
Heidemann, G., Cederbaum, J. A., Martinez, S., & LeBel, T. P. (2016). Wounded healers: How formerly incarcerated women help themselves by helping others. Punishment & Society, 18(1), 3-26.
Lessing, F. D. (2013). Mongolian-English Dictionary. Routledge.
Motz, A. (2016). The psychology of female violence: Crimes against the body. Routledge.
O'Brien, P. (2014). The promise of punishment: Prisons in nineteenth-century France. Princeton University Press.
Pratt, T. C., Turanovic, J. J., Fox, K. A., & Wright, K. A. (2014). Self?control and victimization: A meta?analysis. Criminology, 52(1), 87-116.
Warner, J., 2015. Infants in Orange: An International Model-Based Approach to Prison Nurseries. Hastings Women's LJ, 26, p.65.