• Global Prison Nursery Network Symposium

    Friday, November 3, 2023
    Columbia Law School, New York, NY

Children of Incarcerated Caregivers (CIC) is a non-profit organization that promotes the best interests of children when a parent is incarcerated or facing incarceration. CIC’s Prison Nursery Project focuses on issues related to children who are living with their incarcerated parents in prisons throughout the world.

It has been estimated that a total of 19,000 children are living with one of their incarcerated parents in nearly every country in the world. However, due to the lack of official and reliable data, the actual number may be much higher. Through research and interviews conducted for CIC’s country reports and the International Prison Nursery Project Podcast series, CIC has identified common issues in the prison systems that house children. While international law and the laws of some countries emphasize the rights of these children, often there is no careful or systemic evaluation of factors, such as the potential risks, benefits, and availability of alternatives, prior to a child’s placement in a prison or other custodial setting with a parent. Many prisons lack resources, such as special accommodations, and programs to promote their health, safety, education, and emotional well-being. Prison systems with more resources, including dedicated nurseries or other living spaces for young children, are underutilized due to restrictive admission criteria, despite the widespread separation of incarcerated mothers and their children.

Globally, the incarceration rate of women, many of whom are pregnant or mothers of young children, is rapidly growing, increasing the urgency for more evaluation of prison systems in which children live with parents and the exploration of community-based alternatives. Non-profit organizations and advocates for children of incarcerated parents have voiced the need to work cooperatively to share resources, bring greater attention to problems within prison systems that house children, and identify and promote best practices and programs, including the expansion of community-based alternatives, for parents facing incarceration and their children.

In response to this need, CIC is establishing the Global Prison Nursery Network (GPNN). This network will facilitate the sharing of information and promote collective action on behalf of children. On November 3, 2023, CIC will host its first symposium of the GPNN at Columbia University Law School.

Center for Institutional and Social Change at Columbia Law School

Tentative Agenda
Friday, November 3, 2023

  • Breakfast and keynote presentation.
  • Five (5) panels featuring researchers, advocates, and impacted people on
    1. Different models of prison nurseries throughout the world;
    2. Perspectives and guidance from mothers who have been incarcerated;
    3. International and national laws governing prison nurseries and whether these laws are being implemented;
    4. The role of non-profit organizations in supporting best practices in prison nurseries; and
    5. Alternatives to prison nurseries.
  • Facilitated discussion with presenters and CIC to develop a plan for the
    work of the GPNN.

Those interested in joining the GPNN or attending or presenting at the conference should contact Julie Matonich at julie@cicmn.org. In-person attendance is preferred; however CIC can accommodate presenters and attendees who wish to participate virtually. Funding may also be available for presenters.

Columbia University faculty and students are invited to attend the symposium and participate in panel discussions.