Home > Babies behind bars; an Irish perspective.

Enright, Frances and Boyle, Therese and Murphy, J (2007) Babies behind bars; an Irish perspective. Irish Medical Journal, 100, (1), pp. 327-328.

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In the Irish Prison service prison is not deemed suitable for babies. Rarely are mothers separated from their children in Ireland as they get temporary release renewed weekly to keep her at home with her baby. The governor explained the system of the prison which I detail below. The women's prison is now known as the Dochas Centre meaning hope, named so by the women themselves. We found that 14 babies lived in the centre with their mothers in the last 4 years. Their length of stay ranged from 2 days to 3 months. Of the 14 babies in prison, five were born to women who were pregnant on admission and the other nine brought their babies with them. Six women are separated from their children, in total 24, due to her incarceration.The implications are that a formal system is needed to plan the baby's admission, stay and discharge with formal links with HSE health and child protection systems where necessary. The HSE and the Irish prison's service are looking at further amalgamation or integration of health care into the prison system.

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