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But some of them are fierce: navigating and negotiating the terrain of motherhood as formerly incarcerated and convicted women

Description

Women who are incarcerated are viewed as having departed from the hegemonic standard of motherhood, and become questionable in their roles as mothers, and are often perceived as "bad" mothers.

Women who are incarcerated are viewed as having departed from the hegemonic standard of motherhood, and become questionable in their roles as mothers, and are often perceived as "bad" mothers. While the challenges of parenting behind bars has been widely researched, there is a paucity of research that centers the experiences and challenges of mothers post-incarceration or probation and a void in the literature that attempts to view this population outside of the confines of the good/bad mother dichotomy. This dissertation explores how mothers who are formerly incarcerated or convicted describe their experiences navigating and negotiating their roles not as good or bad mothers but as fierce mothers. The concept of fierce mother exists outside of the good/bad mother binary; it is based on themes that emerged from the stories women told during our conversations about the practice of mothering. The energy of hard-won survival is what they bring to their mother roles and for many it drives their activism around prison abolition issues. Their stories challenge the normative discourse on good/bad mothers, justice, rights, freedom and dignity.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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On the brink: experiences of women with mental illness on probation

Description

This dissertation explores the lives of women who are on the Severely Mentally Ill (SMI) caseload at Maricopa County Adult Probation in Arizona (The Phoenix metro region). The project focuses

This dissertation explores the lives of women who are on the Severely Mentally Ill (SMI) caseload at Maricopa County Adult Probation in Arizona (The Phoenix metro region). The project focuses on three primary issues: (1) what are the pathways to the criminal justice and mental health systems for women on the SMI caseload (2) how does discretion and expansive formal social control (both benevolent and coercive) impact the lives of these women on the SMI caseload and (3) what are the gendered aspects to successful completion of SMI probation. To answer these questions a mixed-methods research design was employed. First, in-depth semi-structured interviews were completed with 65 women on the SMI caseload. Second, these interviews were supplemented with a case file review of each participant, and field observations (encompassing roughly 100 hours) were conducted at the Maricopa County Mental Health Court. Third, analysis also included 5.5 years of quantitative intake data from the SMI caseload, exploring demographic information and risk and assessment needs scores. The biographies of the women on the SMI caseload revealed similar histories of victimization, substance abuse, and relationship difficulty that previous pathways research has noted. Additionally, mental health problems directly impacted the path to the criminal justice system for some women on the SMI caseload. Results also showed many aspects of expanded social control for women on the SMI caseload. This expanded control appeared to be gendered at times and often created double binds for women. Finally, quantitative analysis showed that some predictive factors of SMI probation completion were gendered. Policy implications and summaries of findings are discussed.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2013