Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) reminds us of the mothers in prison and the damage incarceration does to families.
In 2007, there were a reported 147,400 children whose mothers were in state or federal prison. This number has only grown since.
From one mother’s story:
As far as providing for your children while incarcerated, there is no providing. You’re lucky if you make 12 cents per hour working in prison. The worries really were their safety and their happiness: Were they happy? In a safe environment? Were they getting medical and dental care?
Especially when they were taken away from their foster parents, I was saying, “I need to be out there taking care of them! I’m rehabilitated, I’ve more than served enough time, I’m fully capable, I’m employable, I can get a job and support them!”
I just always thought it was such a waste of money, of tax dollars, to keep me in prison so long. Even though I did a lot of things while in prison—I took courses, I worked, I bettered myself—I sat there year after year after year when I should’ve been out taking care of my kids. It would’ve been much more beneficial for everyone involved—me, my kids, my family, and my community—if I had been free to take care of them myself.
Prisons might be necessary but they should be the last resort of the judicial system, not the first and only.