n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - The reality of babies and toddlers behind bars

Special Edition 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093


Infants and toddlers who are 'incarcerated' with their inmate-mothers within South African female correctional facilities are exposed to a harsh, criminal, rigid and static (unchangeable) custodial environment on a daily basis. Captivity and confinement have a very traumatising effect on adults, let alone the dire consequence it has on babies and toddlers. Lack of privacy, freedom of movement, limited choices, social interaction, familial and age appropriate contact all contribute to the baby and toddler's perception of reality. This controlled and unnatural world in which they spend their formative years makes it difficult for the child to adapt to 'normal' society and circumstances. This article analyses the lifestyle and experiences of babies and toddlers behind bars in order to accentuate the reality of early exposure to a criminal and correctional environment. Research participants were selected from female correctional facilities in Gauteng (Pretoria and Johannesburg Correctional Management Areas) and a qualitative research design was followed, utilising an in-depth perspective.

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