Should Arrested Moms Stay With Kids Instead of Going to Jail?
I’ll admit that in reading about the Drew House, “a program for mothers that allows them to live with their children in a private apartment instead of prison while they serve out court mandates”, I couldn’t help but feel a bit nervous.
Most people not involved in social work or any kind of profession that exposes them to conversations and real contact with women like these, might be quick to jump to conclusions: What if they hurt their child (some of which have at one point)? What if they hurt each other and the children are there? What if they go back to a life of crime? Often its thoughts like this that lead to people dismissing the programs, and the individuals they help, altogether.
What might surprise a lot of people, however, is that the cost of rehabilitating these women, providing them counseling, job training and assistance, as well as a safe place where they can re-establish trust with their children has led to much better results at much lower costs than that of simply incarcerating them and sending their children to foster homes.
The ever-increasing number of incarcerations in our country, especially among those of lower incomes and minorities, is alarming, and the costs come at a hefty price with very little success after. Talk about wasted tax dollars.
But rehabilitation of criminals is also a topic that is least likely to garner society’s sympathy and support, not a good sign for a program that is seeking financial assistance to stay afloat. To listen to the political discussions to date, it is clear that some of the most passionate disagreements we hold are around societal issues, and though I think the studies done have shown how much more successful programs like these are over prison time and separation of families, I have little faith that our society will really care – even those among us who can’t imagine a life without our own little ones.
Maybe I am wrong. Maybe this loss of optimism has more to do with the cold weather today than the sense of a growing number of people who just don’t care about anyone outside of themselves or their immediate family. Maybe I am a little scarred from my own days of working with troubled, low-income families, minorities and seeing how they are often disregarded by our society, and by many of our politicians who have the power to help them most.
I would like to think a program like this can strive and really help provide mothers and their children a new and better opportunity, one that the more expensive jail time option can’t.
But, I think poor families in Africa would have a better chance in getting our support and attention (not that they don’t matter) than the many struggling families waiting, hoping, for another chance right here at home, the consequence of which is simply that the children will also struggle to do better, and overall, so will our society. I am just not sure that our society really cares. Hopefully, I am wrong.
Are you for or against the "Drew House" program?