Making Success Impossible: Hardships for the Paroling Mother

by Anonymous at CCWF
Eighty-five percent of the women incarcerated have been abused prior to incarceration. The crimes of which we have been convicted are an outgrowth, directly and/or indirectly, of the violence in our lives. Incarceration severs nearly all of the tenuous familial bonds we may have been holding on to.
With very few exceptions incarcerated women are almost totally separated from their children. As 80% of incarcerated women have 2 minor children, this separation creates a large group of “pseudo-orphans.” The physical location of women’s correctional centers far away from major metropolitan areas with limited transportation access makes is very difficult for caregivers to bring young children to see their mothers. So they don’t.
Upon release from prison, female convicted felons face almost insurmountable barriers to resuming the role of mother-in-person and, in most families, single support-earner. Too often, through the welfare agency of protective services, our children have been placed in long-term foster care placement, or even adopted, and are unavailable to their mothers. Two hundred dollars “gate money” given to paroling inmates upon completion of our sentence, provides, at most, transportation to our county of residence, a few meals, and one or two days lodging. The pressure to return to a criminal life-style becomes nearly irresistible. The few who avoid resorting to desperate measures either parole to a structured half-way house setting (still not at home with our children) or have unusually strong family support or, through grace, have the unlikely good fortune to avoid the pitfalls.
Re-establishing the maternal relationship, while meeting parole conditions and seeking unemployment under the difficulties of being largely unskilled as well as female ex-offenders, make recidivism more likely than not.