On Tuesday 26 June 2018, Dr Rachel Bennett and Professor Hilary Marland convened a one-day conference at the University of Warwick, A Century of Maternal Experiences of Incarceration.
Based on research from the Wellcome-funded project Prisoners, Medical Care and Entitlement to Health in England and Ireland 1850-2000, the day gathered academics and practitioners to explore issues around imprisoning mothers that endure, even 100 years after the prison system as we know it was established. Areas explored include:
- Historical and contemporary debates on whether prison is an acceptable place for mothers and children.
- How have the medical and emotional needs of pregnant women and new mothers been identified and advocated for over the past century and how can this can inform present conversations?
- How do medical practices of the past inform present and future policy?
The day was structured around three themes:
- Rights and Access to Maternity Care for Women in Prison
- Pre- and Post-Natal Choice and Agency for Women in Prison
- Medical and Emotional Needs and Support for Mothers in Prison
We were joined by speakers including:
- Laura Abbott (University of Hertfordshire, midwife)
- Rachel Dolan (University of Manchester)
- Naomi Delap (Birth Companions)
- Jenny Crane (University of Warwick)
- Lucy Baldwin (De Montfort University, Leicester).
Three artists / artistic organisations joined us on the day:
- Fuel and Sabrina Mahfouz, to discuss Lock Her Up, audio pieces responding to historical research on women in prison
- Geese Theatre, to discuss On The Inside, a project in HMP Peterborough’s Mother & Baby Unit
- Natalie Scott, to discuss her forthcoming book of poetry, Rare Birds – Voices of Holloway Prison
Delegate places are by invitation only, but you will be able to follow the day via our live tweet at @histprisnhealth #100yearsWIP.
Rachel Bennett published a piece in History & Policy as a follow up to the conference, that summarised some of the key outcomes and discussion points. It was published in March 2019, on International Women’s Day, to mark 100 years since the landmark Duchess of Bedford’s 1919 Committee of Enquiry into Medical Care in Holloway Prison.
This event has been made possible by the financial support from the Warwick Public Engagement Fund and the Wellcome Trust.
Image Credit: National Justice Museum, Nottingham