IN-CJ Newsdesk 2024 – Insights from the ‘Inside Mum’ Project

IN-CJ Newsdesk 2024 – Insights from the ‘Inside Mum’ Project

In this discussion, Rachel Wood, a PhD researcher at the Open University, discusses her innovative project, “Inside Mum.” This presentation, part of the Newsdesk 2024 by the International Network for Criminal Justice (IN-CJ), explores the use of service and co-design in developing parenting education programmes for women who have experienced the criminal justice system. The conversation provides a comprehensive overview of Rachel’s research, its motivations, and its initial findings.

Rachel’s project aims to address the unique needs of incarcerated mothers, a group often overlooked in prison design and rehabilitation programmes. Drawing on a range of theoretical frameworks, including attachment theory and trauma-informed care, Rachel outlines the current gaps in knowledge and practice. She emphasises the importance of gender-responsive and trauma-informed approaches, recognising that many women in prison have histories of relational trauma that significantly impact their pathways into and out of offending.

The discussion highlights several key concerns:

  • Designing for a Marginalised Group: With women constituting only 4% of the prison population, their specific needs, particularly as mothers, are frequently neglected. The project seeks to create effective, inclusive programmes that support the unique challenges faced by incarcerated mothers.
  • Co-Design and Participatory Methods: Rachel emphasises the value of involving those with lived experience in the design of services, ensuring that the programmes developed are both effective and acceptable to the women they aim to support.
  • Research Gaps and Future Directions: The initial scoping review reveals a significant lack of comprehensive research on service co-design for this population. Rachel identifies the need for further primary research and proposes a sequential mixed methods approach to fill these gaps.
  • Impact on Policy and Practice: By highlighting the gaps and potential solutions, Rachel’s research aims to inform future policy and practice, promoting more equitable and effective support systems for women in the criminal justice system.

This engaging discussion not only sheds light on the challenges faced by incarcerated mothers but also underscores the importance of innovative, participatory research in creating supportive and rehabilitative environments. For more details on the “Inside Mum” project and to stay updated on its progress, visit the IN-CJ website or follow the network on Twitter.

Rob Watson

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