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Australian Prisons (Essay Sample)


An examination of the state in Australian prisons


Case Study
Case study
The Australian government has developed different programs over time to cater for women in prison. A number of acts like the Corrective Service Act 2000 consider women prisoners with special needs like children. In Queensland, the number of female convicts with children has considerably increased. The number of female prisoners considerably increased in 2008; thus the number of children residing in custody and other reform centers increased considerably. Research indicates that the number of women in prison from 75 in 1993 to approximately 358 in 2003. Indigenous women represent approximately 25% of the women in custody (Australian Institute of Criminology, 2002). Since 2003, there has been a growth of female offenders and the trend continues to rise. Most of the female prisoners have young children who reside in the prisons.
The Queensland prisoner numbers have increased, and as the governing on the prisons becomes complex, children living in custody suffer a lot. This is because the conditions in prisons may be dehumanizing to the mothers and thus affecting their children. This has become a problem in this society because it affects the child’s development. In this context, research indicates that little attention is given to the child’s needs when in prison. The child’s rights may not be considered during the sentencing on the mother. This affects the motherhood protocol and the love that the child should receive. The decisions made about younger children accompanying their mothers to prison may have effects on the growth process.
Children residing in prisons are particularly a vulnerable group. The prison system is designed to punish in mates and not their children. However, children suffer a lot of stress due to the conditions in the prisons. This is a violation of their human rights, Children ought to live comfortably for them to grow and develop into respectable members of the society. Subjecting a child to the prisons system at such a tender age, while not providing for adequate measures to ensure the comfort and normal growth of the child is not only wrong but also immoral. The duty to protect children is a collective affair of the society, parents and the government. It is important for the government to embrace the reality that children living in prisons ought to enjoy their childhood like any other child. It is not fair for the children to be subjected to human rights violations on the basis that their mother committed a felony or is serving a sentence of whatever nature
Women in society are primary and sole caretakers of the children. Prior to incarceration, the child may experience lack of love because the mother is stressed. When in custody, the child does not receive constant attention from the mother because of the correct schedule that the mother goes through while in prison. Thus, a child living with the mother in prison may be subjected to stress that affect sound growth. The present state indicates that a mother having dependent children ought to maintain an attachment bond between the child and the mother.
The young children residing with their mothers in prison in Queensland are facing considerable growth challenges because the conditions in prisons are dehumanizing and thus not conducive for child growth. The law provides that if the child is under five years, the mother-child attachment bond should be emphasized. In Queensland, female prisoners who are primary supporters or caregivers are given recognition, especially in terms of placement, classification and case management processes (Sheehan, Mclvor, & Trotter, 2013). On the other hand, imprisonment of the mother affects her normal corrective and care processes towards the child. This occurs when the imprisonment period is long (Woodward, 2003). The child’s rights are violated, and the imprisonment has impacts on the healthy nurturing for the child.
The government has reviewed the Corrective Service Act 2000 severally in the view of catering for female prisoners. There are particular efforts outlined in the act towards ensuring equity in service provision, especially to female offenders with children. Submissions and recommendations provided in the act articulate the need for risk assessment. Children accommodation in the prisons has not been adequately handled because of the segregationist and coercive nature of prisons. This reflects on the inadequate facilities to accommodate children in prisons.
Inadequate facilities and services in Queensland women's prisons
The Queensland Corrective Service Commission 1993 identified women as members in the society with special needs. This is because they are the primary caregivers in the family. When a female person with under age is incarcerated, the law does not provide efficient measures for protection of the child’s rights. Issues of accommodation in the cells and the inadequacy of facilities and services that the female prisoner requires with her child arise. The child may be left under the care of family caregivers. This may subject the mother and child to stressful moments. In addition to that, cells do not provide efficient procedures for women with children.
In Queensland, because of the facility and service inadequacy in the courts, children of the female prisoners are cared by immediate or extended families. The arrangements made by families in these cases provide the needed support for the child after the separation because of the incarceration (Gursansky et al., 1998). In this case, there is no intervention by child protective services or the courts convicting the mother. Mothers sometimes recommend their children to be cared by relatives. The family members provide services needed by the child during the period of the mother’s imprisonment. Family members help the child and minimize any potential obstacles that the child may face. A considerable percentage of the children of the incarcerated mothers grow are brought up under the mother’s family members or other close relatives as compared to the husbands (Gursansky et al., 1998).
The family plays a critical role in molding the child; however, there are disadvantages that arise because the child lacks the natural bond with the mother. Children cared by other members different from their mothers suffer more pain as compared to the convicted mother. The child suffers more as compared to the criminal parent because he or she is at a tender stage of growth. Furthermore, the courts provide visitation moments in the prisons so that other family members visit the convicts in prisons. However, research indicates that there are inadequate visiting arrangements. For children living in the prisons, they lack an ample opportunity to meet other members of their family (Kingi, 2000). The children and women, therefore, cannot keep in touch with their family members. This may stress the female prisoners, which affects how they attend to the needs of their children while in prison. The stresses can be transferred to the child affecting the social, psychological and behavioral state.
There are some prisons in the region where female prisoners reside with their children, but due to security measures, the prison system practices lock-downs. This is where female inmates and their babies stay in cells for long moments like 9 pm to 7 am. They may also be forced to stay in cells for another indeterminate period. Some cells may lack power points required for meal preparation or for heating bottles to feed the children. Mothers suffer because if they are breastfeeding, they cannot provide enough for their babies (Pereira, 2000). On the other hand, children spend longer times without having a meal. This sets in volatile situations for children, inmate mothers and other female inmates.
The current state in prisons where mothers lack adequate facilities and services affects the state of children living in prisons. In 2008, 7.7% or approximately 425 women were in Queensland’s prisons. This was a considerable increase, and thus the facilities and services provided were low. In addition to that, these prisons were understaffed by women attendants. As much as female prisoners with children are recognized under their own rights and respective correctional responses; there is a lapse in the system (Young & Jefferson, 2000). This subjects the children in prisons in dehumanizing situations and thus affecting their normal growth.
Prisoner Classification
In Queensland prisons, the classification model for people in prison is the same for male and female prisoners. The system ensures that the convicted persons are held in a secure facility. This takes into consideration provision of appropriate supervision levels, such that the high risk prisoners, those attempting to escape and those who pose risks to others can be below the required level of control. The issue is the criteria used in this case takes into consideration female prisoners with young children. Classification is a critical issue because determining the best classification level that takes into consideration the needs and rights of the child may be a problem. Sometimes female prisoners and their children are sent to correctional facilities higher than the necessary levels required. In this case, the mother and child are subject to restricted conditions where they have restricted access to necessary correctional activities and programs (Healey, Foley, & Walsh, 2000). In other cases, the female offenders with their children may be classified with dangerous offenders at a lower security facility. Thus, there will be implied security risks to fellow inmates, the child and correctional workers. In such cases, the child is subjected to stress, despite being in the comfort of the mother.
Prisoner classification is quite impor...
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