Incarcerated mothers’ experience of adversity heard using participatory mixed-method research

O’Malley, Sinead
Devaney, Carmel
Millar, Michelle
O’Malley, Sinead, Devaney, Carmel, & Millar, Michelle. Incarcerated mothers’ experience of adversity heard using participatory mixed-method research. Probation Journal, doi:10.1177/02645505221143335
This paper is based on mixed method participatory research with incarcerated mothers in Ireland. It is based on a study which aimed to profile imprisoned mothers, hear their experiences of motherhood and mothering, and examine their available supports. Participants were involved in the design and implementation of the research, but not the data analysis and reporting. In Ireland, women are contained in two closed prisons which contain a range of inmates. Prominent themes highlighted in the lives of participants include trauma, addiction, and mother-child separation. Rich accounts of child and adult trauma, associated addiction and criminality and voluntary and enforced separations from their children are described and discussed. Research participants engaged fully in this process and were keen to share the research findings when the opportunity arose. They also supported the lead researcher to disseminate the findings widely. An overview of relevant literature on motherhood, incarceration, trauma and addiction in the context of incarceration is presented in the paper, followed by a detailed outline and discussion of the participatory methods used. The paper concludes with a reflection on the key issues that arose for participants and considers how these might be responded to in the future.
SAGE Publications
Publisher DOI