Skip to main content
SearchLoginLogin or Signup

"A Thematic Analysis of Parenting Experiences of Women in Prison" (Pious Maedzenge and Dawn Beichner-Thomas): Review 2

Published onApr 16, 2023
"A Thematic Analysis of Parenting Experiences of Women in Prison" (Pious Maedzenge and Dawn Beichner-Thomas): Review 2

Vote: Publish pending minor changes

No major concerns, just some minor clarifications to language and expansion on a few things.


“since 2000, the female prison population has increased by 60%, compared to a 22% increase for the male carceral population during the same time period” – The “time period” in question is not fully articulated. Clarify: What is the endpoint, from 2000 to when?

“the children likely to be affected by parental incarceration, are those that were already vulnerable prior to their parent’s incarceration” – Clarify: they were already vulnerable to what, exactly?

I suggest moving some things around and clarifying a few things to strengthen the framing of the paragraph, starting with “Given that the pathways ….” For instance, the following sentence should be moved up to be the 2nd sentence in the paragraph to connect to mothering sooner: “The same applies to incarcerated women who are mothers.” For the sentence, Women who are parenting from prison are a carceral group that requires special attention, in terms of their rehabilitative needs.” – Briefly state why? The following sentence is also a repetition of what comes before it: “Thus, there is need to go beyond custodial classification of system-involved women and classify them based on their programming needs (USCCR, 2020).” Unless the authors can specify and summarize what these programmatic needs are before diving in deeper then this sentence should just be removed since it does not add to the discussion.

Incarcerated Mothers’ Histories

“Thus, in this study, those serving community sentences or on probation are either excluded or simply mentioned in passing.” – There may be a better way to say this latter portion to the reader, also considering that this starts off speaking about the “study” but ends speaking about what the paper does/doesn’t do. Consider: “Thus, those serving community sentences or on probation were not included in this study, and this paper focuses on the parenting narratives of mothers during their incarceration.”

Mothering and Prison

Overall, the section seems to focus on mothering for oppressed groups more broadly (and during/after incarceration) than “mothering and prison” as titled. Consider editing the section title to reflect the discussion here more accurately.

Not a fan of the descriptive word “calm” to talk about parenting, especially given public racialized narratives of mothers of color as loud, aggressive, etc.

“highlights the plight mothers of color by meticulously arguing” – Missing a word; Should be mothers of color face/encounter/endure, whichever you believe fits best here.

Gendered Effects of CVODI-19 on Incarcerated Women

While I agree with everything in this section and see its importance, this importance is not directly connected to the paper's focus on mothering experiences/perceptions during incarceration. It reads as if it were simply added in as a standalone section but was never connected to anything else. If kept in this paper, it requires better integration into the larger discussion. Was the study conducted before COVID-19, after COVID-19 first hit? Perhaps, contextualizing the findings in the back end given the discussion/focus on visitations during incarceration, and yet this was one of the first things to go during COVID-19.

Coping Strategies of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Mothers

Careful with language: Gurusami did not “introduce” the concept motherwork, which has been around for a few decades before her 2019 paper. She does, however, apply/connect/associate the concept of motherwork to those three context-specific strategies.

This section is missing a conclusion and transition to what comes next. The reading is left hanging, essentially.


I see that the table says <1-24 for the children’s age range, which makes me think the youngest was a few months old, but the text says “one year.” So why the < sign?

Review Prior Conviction number and percentage in relation to what is written in the text.


“participants expressed interest in upgrading themselves through education” – rephrase the word “upgrading,” which doesn’t fit well when speaking about human beings compared to technology.

Relevance to Theory

I’m struck by the intersectionality component, and “the findings do not support much of it.” Consider why that is. For instance, something that sticks out is the eligibility requirements for the parenting program. Research shows that conditions of “neglect” are over tied to class and race, and this restricted mothers from the program. In addition, the “alternative caregiver” language for the program requirement makes me wonder if mothers were not allowed to be in this program if the children were in foster care and how this excludes groups without family support who are financially capable of taking on this responsibility. What about the role of researcher positionality? Consider and discuss how the lack of direct intersectional narratives may be a function of these things.

No comments here
Why not start the discussion?