Having checked all female prisons in different parts of Uganda, roughly 24 children have been found staying with their mothers behind the bars. The innocent children have been born and brought up in tough conditions in prisons for having been born to mothers’ who are suspected to have broken the laws. Country wide, there are seven female prisons in the districts of Lira, Otuke, Oyam, Kole, Alebtong, Apac and Dokolo districts altogether accommodating over 228 female inmates. Of the 24 children in prisons, 12 have been incarcerated with their mothers in lira prison.
Being born and brought up in prisons, these children are only familiar with prison life associated with dark corridors; congestion and stench that smell all over prison facilities. This tough prison life has greatly affected the lives of this young blood in that they only associate and feel comfortable with fellow prisoners or else those in prisoner’s attire.
Children staying in prisons face various challenges, which in turn affect both their mental and physical health. These kids spend all their time with adult prisoners hence adopting to bad manners and behaving like the elderly at a young age. Loneliness is another challenge faced by children in prisons. Children neither have toys for playing nor special attention from their mothers due to the hard life they face in prisons. Similarly, there are no day care schools for these babies, which keep them behind the bars with their mothers all the time.
Despite various organizations that have donated some clothes to children in prisons, the clothing’s are still not enough. Regarding the beddings, these children presently share blankets with their mothers, which were donated by the Uganda prisons services but the mattresses they were given got torn.
Additionally, the young children have no mosquito nets, which expose them to mosquito bites hence malaria, which affects their health. More still, children feed on beans and mingled Posho served only inn the afternoon and evening hors just like the adult prisoners.
The un favorable living conditions in prison has forced some women to keep their young children outside prisons which hurts them more not staying with their children in peace. This has called for co-detention which allows mothers to stay with their children hence developing an a close attachment
More still, community based sentencing is a new form of imprisonment that has been suggested as the alternative option. This keeps mothers in close attachment with their children rather than the prison-based incarceration. Community based sentencing also saves children the trauma of continuous separation with their mothers giving them a peaceful mind.
To improve the lives of children in prisons with their mothers, the government has established seven-day care centers for the 21 female prisons in the country. Similarly, female prisons all over the country have been given cows to provide milk for the young children.
Conclusively therefore, there are extensive plans to improve the lives of children staying with their mothers in prisons. The government is the chief funder in conjunction with other non governmental organizations across the country.