Inmate mothers are not only seen to offend against society, but also against their role as mothers. They bear often public and private scorn for the dislocation their incarceration brings to their children and families. This paper reports on the Australian component of an international comparative policy study, Incarcerated mothers and children: Impact of prison environments (IMCIPE). This study investigated the impact of the prison environment or institutional ecology on incarcerated mothers and their young children, aged birth to eight years (that is, mothers whose children live with them in custody and mothers who are separated from their children), in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and England. This paper draws on data from policy analyses; interviews with policy-makers,with inmate mothers, and with custodial and non-custodial staff; and observations within six women's prisons and their respective correctional authorities in the three Australian states. This paper argues for policies which support the inmate as mother and which support her children and their caregivers on the outside.\ud Key words: incarcerated mothers, female criminality, family policy,child incarceratio
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