Motherhood in prison
This thesis uses an intersectional approach to examine the experience of mothers of color in prisons in the United States and how these experiences compare to those of incarcerated parents in Denmark, where a strong welfare state and very homogenous society dictate prison policies that are dramatically different. Chapter 1 focuses on the disproportionate rates at which women of color’s pregnancies are criminalized, these women are framed as bad mothers, and how these occurrences explain policies in prison that are harmful to incarcerated mothers. Chapter 2 investigates Denmark, where a strong welfare state virtually eliminates poverty and society is highly homogenous, as an informative comparative case, but tracks recent policy changes that the influx of nonwestern immigrants into Denmark as a result of the 2015 refugee crisis caused. Chapter 3 investigates the reasoning in many articles evaluating the condition of women in prison today and scholars’ tendency to advocate for prison reform for its instrumental value in achieving objectives other than advancing incarcerated women’s rights. The thesis concludes with an explanation of the importance of studying how race and class affect sentencing and prison practices and the danger of appealing to the instrumental value of women’s rights without sufficiently addressing institutionalized sexism and racism.