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Babies and mothers the real winners

15 June 2006

Babies and mothers the real winners

The success of her Corrections ( Mothers of Babies) Amendment Bill in the private members ballot means that New Zealand can now come significantly improve the way it treats mothers and babies in prison, Green Party Social Development Spokesperson Sue Bradford says.

"I'm delighted that this Bill has been drawn in the ballot. Even though only a small number of women and children are affected by its measures the reforms this bill proposes can make all the difference in the life of each baby, and of the mother involved.

"What has particularly concerned me have been the anecdotal reports that the ability to breastfeed can be used as a disciplinary tool by prison staff.

"Securing a mother's right to breastfeed irrespective of disciplinary measures by prison authorities will be a major achievement," Ms Bradford says.

"Secondly, so long as mothers and babies have conditions provided that are suitable to their development it will enable children to be accommodated with their mothers for up to two years. In some prisons, that will mean we will need to take action to make suitable mother and baby units available.

"We cannot afford to let the health and wellbeing of any baby be jeopardised because of the actions of their parents, and maintaining the link with her baby can also be a major factor in the rehabilitation of the mother," Ms Bradford says.

"This is a small but much needed reform of our prison system - and I am optimistic that most, if not all political parties will support my bill.""


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