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When parents go to prison, their children often suffer: research

ABBOTSFORD (NEWS1130) – New research out of the University of the Fraser Valley has found kids who have parents in the prison system don’t have enough support in Canada.

UVF Criminology Professor Amanda McCormick says even if the children are able to stay with other family; it leaves them at risk in a variety of ways depending on their age.

“If you’ve got toddlers we are talking about possible developmental regression. If we are talking about babies being separated from mothers, there is the deprivation of the physical health benefits that are accrued through breast feeding for instance or the psychological relationship between a baby and a parent.”

McCormick says since most prison sentences for women are for less serious crimes, efforts should be made to allow mothers to serve house arrest terms so they can continue to care for children.

“Doesn’t it make more sense for our sentencing practices to consider how the child may benefit from perhaps using an alternative to incarceration such as house arrest for instance or allowing the mother to stay at home while she serves whatever the penalty is that the courts have decided where she can at the same time care for her child and allow the child to remain in a setting that is comfortable and familiar to them.”

She suggests another option would be providing transport for children to see their parents on visiting days, as well as counselling.