Should babies be taken off mothers in custody straight away?

Should babies be taken off mothers in custody straight away?

Four babies born to mothers in custody in 2017- the highest annual number in recent years.

In figures provided to Clare Daly TD by the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, the four babies born to mothers in custody tops the three babies born to mothers in custody in 2016.

The seven births in 2017 and 2016 follow no births to mothers in custody in 2015 with three in 2014 and two in 2013.

In total, 17 babies have been born to mothers in custody between 2010 and the end of last year.

According to a spokesman for the prison service “there is a considerable level of support available for mothers and babies in the Dóchas Centre”.

New mothers are allowed to keep their infants with them in custody so as not to disrupt early bonding. Each mother and child are provided with their own single room with en-suite facilities in the mother and baby Unit on their return to the Dóchas Centre after giving birth.

Required items such as a cot, baby food, nappies etc. are also provided.

The level of maternity care provided to women in custody, including ante-natal care, is comparable to that available to women in the community.

Pregnant women attend a maternity hospital, and the babies receive the same care from Public Health Nurses as that provided to a baby born outside prison. The Dóchas Centre provides a 24 hour nursing service, and has daily access to a Prison Doctor.”

Once the child in each instance reaches 12 months at the mother and baby unit, the baby must then leave the prison leaving his/her mother behind in accordance with prison rules.

The Dóchas centre that has the capacity to house 105 female inmates is the only prison in the country that has facilities for mothers and babies.

As part of the suite of services to mothers who have given birth while in jail, the spokesman said that “counselling is provided to the mother at all stages of the transition.  Contact is also made with the social services in the carer’s local area to monitor the care being provided to the child”.

The service’s 2007 prison rules provide the structure for babies to remain with their mothers until they are 12 months of age.

Today I want to know if you think it is wrong to have babies in prison for the first year of their life.

I know that they won’t remember what happened but is it wrong regardless?

Or do you think it would be cruel to take a baby from its mother straight after birth?

I want to know what you think –

Should babies be taken straight from their mother in prison when they are born?

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