Russian MOJ proposes children up to 4 be allowed to stay with mothers in prison

Proposal from the Ministry of Justice to allow children up to four years of age to stay with their mothers in prison




At present, children up to three years of age can stay with their mothers. A Bill has been tabled for discussion.


The children live in special accommodation within prisons. Once older than the prescribed age, they are placed with relatives or sent to standard orphanages. The Explanatory Note to the Bill states that raising a child’s age will “help to preserve family ties” and have a positive effect on the psychological and emotional state of both child and mother.


Natalya Kostina, CEO of the Hold Out Your Hand charity, which helps mothers and pregnant women in prisons, said that “the longer a child is with its mother the better. Not being separated for four years is better than three, but it isn’t clear how a five-year old child is different in this case”. Kostina suggested introducing a package of measures that not only allows a child to stay with its mother but also adopts a more relaxed protective approach while an investigation is underway, for example if a woman with children is being questioned in relation to a non-violent offence.


In the Bill, the Justice Ministry argues that women who have committed minor misdemeanours and have children under four years of age should be released on parole or given lighter sentences. The Ministry agrees that staying in special accommodation in a prison can have an adverse effect on a child’s psychological and emotional state and on its physical development.



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