Children, Mothers and the Criminal Justice System

Doret J. de Ruyter, Sanne C. E. M. Hissel, Catrien C. J. H. Bijleveld


Every year, a substantial number of children are confronted with the detention of their primary caregiver, which in most cases is their mother. Empirical research shows that the well-being of children is seriously affected by their mother’s imprisonment, although to date no study has been able to assess whether detention of a mother as such causes long-term damage. Starting from normative pedagogical principles, this article argues that mothers who are active caretakers of their children should not serve a prison sentence while their children are underage. The interests of children are a sufficient reason to prevent ‘collateral damage’ to their well-being - unless it is evident that other reasons either related to the well-being of children or society have to overrule this principle.

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Review of European Studies   ISSN 1918-7173 (Print)   ISSN 1918-7181 (Online)

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