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Legal, ethical, and developmental considerations concerning children in prison nursery programs


The majority of the research advocating for prison nurseries focuses primarily on justifying such programs through a utilitarian perspective of maximizing well-being for society. Research has not focused on justifying prison nurseries as ethical from the perspective of the child. This research expands the purview of the Eighth amendment and argues that separating a child from his or her incarcerated parents represents a cruel and unusual punishment because of the multitude of adverse effects on the child. This paper builds off of the existing utilitarian narrative, while also advancing the argument that prison nurseries are ethical because of children’s inherent and fundamental rights to have a relationship with his or her parent, prison nurseries limitation of the negative effects of parental incarceration and child because of society’s duty to protect the best interest of the child. This paper argues that separating children from their incarcerated parents is unethical and that prison nurseries are just based on a mixture of a utilitarian framework and the inherent and fundamental rights of the child. (author abstract)

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