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With the number of incarcerated women rising in the United States, scholarship and activism has focused more explicitly on the backgrounds, criminal contexts, and programming needs of the imprisoned population. This article focuses on motherhood and relies on qualitative life-history interviews with thirty women in a southwestern detention center. The women’s narratives are used to further our under-standing of the ways in which motherhood (1) resonates with incarcerated women’s self-perceptions, (2) relates to their motivations for crime, and (3) informs therapeutic programming within the carceral3 environment. In order to address the needs of a critical, yet often ignored, correctional population, we specifically examine the ways in which gender-specific therapeutic approaches may be applied to a jail facility where continuous, in-depth programming may be challenging due to inmate turn-around and unrest.

Published Citation

Moe, Angela M., and Ferraro, Kathleen J. 2006. “Criminalized Mothers: The Value and Devaluation of Parenthood from Behind Bars.” Women & Therapy, 29(3-4): 135-164.

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Criminology Commons