herald

Monday 11 December 2017

Three babies born to mums in Mountjoy

The Irish Prison Service has confirmed that three babies were born to jailed mothers in Irish prisons last year.

In response to a Freedom of Information request, the Irish Prison Service (IPS) has confirmed that three babies were born to mothers imprisoned at the Dochas centre in the Mountjoy campus.

Like a plotline right out of the hit Netflix prison drama, Orange is the New Black, the three babies were born to mothers serving sentences and this contrasts with no babies born in 2012 and no further babies born to date to mothers in custody in 2014.

According to a spokesman for the prison service "there is a considerable level of support available for mothers and babies in the Dóchas Centre".

"Provisions are made to facilitate new mothers keeping their infants with them in custody so as not to disrupt early bonding," the spokesman said.

"Each mother and child are provided with their own single room with en-suite facilities in the mother-and-baby unit on their return to the Dóchas Centre after giving birth.

"Required items such as a cot, baby food, nappies etc. are also provided," he added,

Once the child in each instance reaches 12 months, the baby must then leave the prison leaving his/her mother behind in accordance with prison rules - this compares to the UK system where babies can remain with their mothers until there are 18-months-old.

The Dochas Centre, which has the capacity to house 105 female inmates, is the only prison in the country that has facilities for mothers and babies.

SENSITIVE

According to the prison service spokesman: "Procedures are in place to ensure the handover [of the baby] is done in as sensitive and as painless a manner as possible".

"Counselling is provided to the mother at all stages of the transition.

"Contact is also made with the social services in the carer's local area to monitor the care being provided to the child."

hnews@herald.ie

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