Prison Parenting Program: Can you be pro-family and pro-incarceration?

The Shotgun Blog


Friday, December 12, 2008

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) is calling on the B.C. provincial government to reinstate the mother-child program at the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women.  The prison parenting program was cancelled in April of this year. 

British Columbia’s Representative for Children and Youth has called for the reinstatement of the program and a legal action has been launched on behalf of five incarcerated women affected by the program’s cancellation.

Megan Vis-Dunbar with the BCCLA today said “The loss of the mother-child program in correctional facilities is an unjustified infringement on the rights of both the parents and the children.  Apprehending newborns from female inmates causes serious harm to the child’s psychological and emotional development and profound psychological stress to the parent.  In addition, these harms disproportionately affect Aboriginal women and children because of the over- representation of Aboriginal women in Canadian prisons.”

When mothers are incarcerated the Ministry of Children and Family Development apprehends the children when family members are not available to take on the responsibility. According to the BCCLA, woman often have to take legal action to regain custody of children who have been placed in foster care during their incarceration.  Under the BC Child Family and Community Services Act , a child under five years-old who has been in temporary care for over 12 months automatically becomes a ward of the state and may be put up for adoption.

“The loss of this program is devastating to vulnerable families.  Single mothers who are incarcerated must have the option of being able to reside with their infant children.  Anything less is inconsistent with our commitments under the UN Declaration of Rights of the Child, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” said Vis-Dunbar.

The question, of course, is whether or not the incarcerated mothers are fit to parent. Non-violent criminals who run afoul of the law may be fit to parent, while violent criminals may not.

Separating children from their parents, however, must surely only be done as a last resort.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on December 12, 2008 in Crime



Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre

Notice there is no equality? No parenting facilities for men in jail? Its an automatic assumption that men don't parent.
What is outragious is that fathers who attempt to be parents are frequently "criminalized" by judges determined to improperly do indirectly what they cannot do in an objective impartial court. Take Justices Denis Power and Alan Sheffield of Ottawa, they routinely issue orders against unemployed fathers for support at impossible incomes simply to cause their incarceration as a penalty for asking the courts for access, they also issue draconian orders that are virtual deportations orders under threat of jail. Interestingly, Russia has had parenting programs for women for decades, see youtube russiatoday.

Posted by:Ottawa Mens Centre | 13-Dec-08 11:14:24 AM