Can mental health support for mothers stop child neglect?

A British woman jailed for two years for neglecting her children says she could have done better if she had mental health support.

Lydia Morrish
Lydia Morrish NewsMavens, United Kingdom
Can mental health support for mothers stop child neglect? - NewsMavens
Woman, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

While the 2007 Corston Report, a high-profile prison review, recommended only high-risk women be jailed, the majority of women in Wales are jailed for nonaggressive offenses.

One woman was recently jailed for two years for child neglect, due to not having any hot water or heating, animal faeces on the floor and rubbish across the house.

The woman, from south Wales, said she had suffered an abusive relationship and was struggling to cope and that she would not have been in the situation had she received support for her mental health from local authorities

"I hold my hands up, I did live like that and it was disgusting, but I also cleaned my act up, for the sake of making somewhere safe, happy and clean for [my children]," she said.

However, after serving 11 months of her two-year sentence, she was released. But she had already lost her council house, possessions and faced further adversity.

While she is now getting mental health treatment, her situation is a symbol of growing concerns about women imprisoned for non-violent crimes in the UK.

Details from the story:

  • According to the Ministry of Justice, 87.4% of women given custodial sentences in Wales in 2017 had committed non-violent offences compared to 74.7% of men.
  • However a review into vulnerable women in the criminal justice system said only high-risk women should be jailed.
  • The Ministry of Justice said fewer women should be put in prison on short sentences because it can do more harm than good.
  • One woman, a mother from south Wales, was given a two-year custodial sentence for neglecting her children. However, once she was released 11 months later, she had lost her house. Her mental health had also plummeted, showing the danger of imprisoning non-violent women for a short time.

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