seminar: Dr Rachel Bennett (Warwick): 'A Heritage of Woe? Debating Prison Births in Twentieth-Century England'
In 1903 Arthur Griffiths, a prison administrator, stated that to be born in prison was an ‘inalienable heritage of woe.’ However, he captured the long-standing inconsistency surrounding this issue when he added that, despite the stigma, in many cases ‘the prison born are better off than the free born – they are more cared for, more delicately nurtured.’ The question of prison births perennially troubled prison authorities throughout the first half of the twentieth century. There were those who acknowledged the potential remedial effects for mothers and other women of having children in the prison and the opportunities a prison sentence offered for medical and social intervention. However, others lamented the risk of moral contagion and worried that to be born in prison carried with it a life-long stigma for children – deemed to be innocent in the eyes of the law.