Criminalized mothers: The value and devaluation of parenthood from behind bars

Angela M. Moe, Kathleen J. Ferraro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


With the number of incarcerated women rising in the United States, scholarship and activism has focused more explicitly on the backgrounds, criminal contexts, and programming needs of the imprisoned population. This article focuses on motherhood and relies on qualitative life-history interviews with thirty women in a southwestern detention center. The women's narratives are used to further our understanding of the ways in which motherhood (1) resonates with incarcerated women's self-perceptions, (2) relates to their motivations for crime, and (3) informs therapeutic programming within the carceral environment. In order to address the needs of a critical yet often ignored correctional population, we specifically examine the ways in which gender-specific therapeutic approaches may be applied to a jail facility where continuous, in-depth programming may be challenging due to inmate turn-around and unrest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-164
Number of pages30
JournalWomen and Therapy
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Apr 10 2007


  • Criminal mothers
  • Parenthood and prisons
  • Self-perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Criminalized mothers: The value and devaluation of parenthood from behind bars'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this