12 September 2008
The Corrections (Mothers with Babies) Amendment Bill was passed into law yesterday. The bill sets out provisions for Mothers to keep their children with them in prison up to two years of age.
“Approved low-security female prisoners are already allowed to have their babies with them in prison up to six months of age. Feeding and bonding facilities are also available to women prisoners who do not meet the requirements to have their baby with them,” says Department of Corrections Policy Manager Bronwyn Donaldson.
“The Corrections (Mothers with Babies) Amendment Bill will enable more children to reside in prison with their mothers. The Bill does this by raising the upper age children can reside in prison from six months to two years, and by opening participation to all women prisoners with dependent children under the age of two, and not just those with a minimum security classification.”
“The Department will work towards providing eight places in Auckland and Christchurch Women’s Prisons, the cost of which is yet to be determined.
“Children and prisons do not naturally go together. If we are going to allow older children to reside in prison we need to make sure that we create an environment that supports their developmental needs. The Department will be looking into this in detail prior to applying for funding,” says Ms Donaldson.
Funding to implement the Bill will be sought through the Budget 2009 round. If funding is secured and available from 1 July 2009, then the two facilities are expected to be up and running by mid 2010.
“As an interim measure to enable children to reside in prison until they reach nine months of age, the Department will seek approval for a change to the existing Corrections Regulations.
“Currently, the Regulations allow for a child to stay up until nine months if the Chief Executive considers there are good grounds to do so (e.g. the mother’s sentence will finish before her child turns nine months). This requirement would be removed,” says Ms Donaldson.
For further information contact the Communications Services Desk:
Notes to reporter:
The provisions that the Department already has in place for mothers and their babies are:
Babies up to six months of age are already allowed to reside in prisons with their mothers. The women and their children are housed in the self-care units with other women offenders preparing for release from prison. The women must have a minimum security classification to participate in the Mother with Children in Prison Programme.
Feeding and bonding facilities are available to women prisoners who do not have a minimum security classification or are on remand. Children come in on a daily basis to feed and bond with their mothers. The rest of the time the children reside with alternative caregivers.
Copyright © Department of Corrections | Feedback and queries email: firstname.lastname@example.org