Over 17,000 children are separated from their mothers every year in this country because they are sent to prison, a fact that is causing children to experience harmful emotional, social and psychological problems.
The Howard League for Penal Reform suggests that many of the women jailed could have been punished by setting them to community tasks instead of custodial sentences which would have saved 11,000 children from separation. Many of the women in prison are awaiting trail or indeed are found not guilty, meaning that the separation is not necessarily essential. Separation is very damaging for children who are not even allowed access, as many visiting hours are scheduled during school hours and weekend parental/family days are being reduced because of budget and funding cuts.
Twelve women's prisons exist in Britain, and just over half have a mother and baby unit which equates to fewer than 70 places. It has been suggested that non violent crimes be dealt with on a local level with secure, local units being used to house women closer to their families rather than in far away prisons.
Over a third of women in prison have children under five and half have children under 16.
Shocking facts to face... even more shocking and sad for the children effected.