Children in peril as women are jailed in record numbers

The number of women in prisons has more than doubled in 15 years, with 17,240 children separated from mothers who are in jail, an investigation by The Independent shows today. Britain has the highest rate of female imprisonment in the European Union, with 10,181 women put behind bars last year alone. That statistic has raised fears that the criminal justice system is creating a lost generation of children raised without mothers. Only 80 young children are accommodated with their mothers behind bars in eight mother and baby units, the figures show. Evidence suggests that separation by imprisonment causes long-term emotional, social, material and psychological damage for the children involved.

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