Michael D. White, Michele Galietta, and Gypsy Escobar (2006). “Technology-driven Literacy Programs as a Tool for Re-connecting Incarcerated Mothers and their Children: Assessing their Need and Viability in a Federal Prison.” Justice Policy Journal, 3(1): 1-20.
Given the consequences of infrequent visitation for incarcerated mothers and their children, corrections officials have sought to identify innovative methods for improving mother-child contact. One example involves literacy programs relying on secure video and email communications. However, little is known about the incarcerated mothers and children these programs would serve, particularly the emotional and psychological issues that would need to be addressed to facilitate successful mother-child contacts. As part of a needs assessment for the development of a literacy-based program at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut, researchers conducted face-to-face interviews with a non-probability convenience sample of 36 incarcerated mothers. Findings showed that the interviewees are relatively “high-functioning”, but do have significant problems related to traumatic experiences and mental health issues. Also, interviewees rarely see their children and would value a program that improves that connection. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of the findings for the development of such programs, particularly inmate concerns regarding family and caregiver resources and the need to address issues related to trauma and mental health.