Mothering from the Inside

Parenting in a Women's Prison

By Sandra Enos

Subjects: Women's Studies
Series: SUNY series in Women, Crime, and Criminology
Paperback : 9780791448502, 184 pages, October 2000
Hardcover : 9780791448496, 184 pages, October 2000

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Table of contents


1. Mothers in Prison: The Impact of Race and Ethnicity

2. The Challenge of Mothering on the Inside

3. Arranging Care and Managing Caretakers

4. Demonstrating Fitness and Negotiating Ownership of Children

5. Constructing and Managing Motherhood, Drugs, and Crime

6. Conclusions and Recommendations

Afterword: "You Know What I'm Sayin'?"

Appendix A
Appendix B


Explores how women in prison manage to mother their children from behind bars.


The majority of female inmates are also mothers of children under the age of eighteen. These women don't stop being mothers when they receive a prison sentence, but in fact try a variety of means to maintain motherhood and mothering while away from their children. Based on research conducted in a women's prison, Mothering from the Inside reveals how inmate mothers find places for their children to live, manage relationships with caregivers, demonstrate their fitness as mothers, and negotiate rights to their children under challenging circumstances. The impact of race, ethnicity, and marginality on women in prison is traced through the development of the women's motherhood careers.

Sandra Enos is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Rhode Island College.


"As increasing numbers of women are incarcerated, concern for their children is an issue that must be addressed. Women in prison usually identify concern for their children as their primary priority. This book addresses how inmate mothers manage motherhood within the prison setting. The author has identified a subject which is of important concern for mothers in prison and their children in the community. In addition, the policy implications of this issue for correctional administrators and ultimately society at large are also addressed. …well developed, engaging, and clear." — Zelma W. Henriques, author of Imprisoned Mothers and Their Children