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