In support of prisoners and prison justice activism in Canada
Women file lawsuit over cancelled mother-baby program

Women file lawsuit over cancelled mother-baby program
December 2008
Stark Raven Media Collective

Five women and two babies are taking BC Corrections to court. The women are former and current prisoners of Alouette Correctional Centre For Women in Maple Ridge, BC. They want the jail to bring back the mother and baby program, which was quietly cancelled in April 2008.

Geoffrey Cowper is a Vancouver lawyer representing the women. He has filed a writ in BC Supreme Court stating these women have a constitutional right to stay to stay with their babies. He says the Charter of Rights and Freedoms states every individual has the right to security of the person. He says the babies also have a right to stay with their moms under the UN Declaration of the Child.

Before the program was cancelled, mothers who gave birth while serving time would have the opportunity to keep their babies with them. Now, babies are taken away and either put into foster care or given to a relative. One of the plaintiffs in this lawsuit has opted for a longer sentence to keep her baby. She's been transferred to the federal prison where the mother and baby program still exists.



Source articles:
Victoria should reinstate mom-baby jail program (canada.com)

Related Audio:
Interview with Geoff Cowper on the Early Edition (cbc.ca)
Feature interview on The Current (cbc.ca)
Stark Raven interview on the Cancellation of the Program
Stark Raven interview with women who participated in the Mother-Baby program

Other Resources:
The BC Civil Liberties Association has also called for the reinstatement of the program. (full details, including a position paper)

Further info on prisonjustice.ca:
BC tries to quietly cancel mother and baby in prison program