Document Type

Journal Article




School of Nursing and Midwifery




Myers, H., Segal, L., Lopez, D., Li, I. W., & Preen, D. B. (2017). Impact of family-friendly prison policies on health, justice and child protection outcomes for incarcerated mothers and their dependent children: A cohort study protocol. BMJ Open, 7(8), e016302, 1-7.



Female imprisonment has numerous health and social sequelae for both women prisoners and their children. Examples of comprehensive family-friendly prison policies that seek to improve the health and social functioning of women prisoners and their children exist but have not been evaluated. This study will determine the impact of exposure to a family-friendly prison environment on health, child protection and justice outcomes for incarcerated mothers and their dependent children.

Methods and analysis

A longitudinal retrospective cohort design will be used to compare outcomes for mothers incarcerated at Boronia Pre-release Centre, a women’s prison with a dedicated family-friendly environment, and their dependent children, with outcomes for mothers incarcerated at other prisons in Western Australia (that do not offer this environment) and their dependent children. Routinely collected administrative data from 1985 to 2013 will be used to determine child and mother outcomes such as hospital admissions, emergency department presentations, custodial sentences, community service orders and placement in out-of home care. The sample consists of all children born in Western Australia between 1 January 1985 and 31 December 2011 who had a mother in a West Australian prison between 1990 and 2012 and their mothers. Children are included if they were alive and aged less than 18 years at the time of their mother’s incarceration. The sample comprises an exposed group of 665 women incarcerated at Boronia and their 1714 dependent children and a non-exposed comparison sample of 2976 women incarcerated at other West Australian prisons and their 7186 dependent children, creating a total study sample of 3641 women and 8900 children.

Ethics and dissemination

This project received ethics approval from the Western Australian Department of Health Human Research Ethics Committee, the Western Australian Aboriginal Health Ethics Committee and the University of Western Australia Human Research Ethics Committee.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License