Indigenous Carceral Motherhood: An Examination of Colonial, Patriarchal, and Neoliberal Control


  • Isabel Scheuneman Scott University of Alberta



Despite Canada’s international reputation as a world leader in women’s rights, its own policies and practices continue to target and discriminate against Indigenous women, particularly those who are entangled within the criminal (in)justice and child welfare systems (Monchalin 2016). This article synthesizes international research, with a primary focus on Canada, in order to theorize issues surrounding Indigenous women’s experiences of carceral motherhood. By drawing on critical feminist criminological and Indigenous feminist perspectives, I examine issues related to caretaking and incarceration, mothering from prison (visitations), mothering in prison (mother-child programs), and mothering after prison (parole). Despite rejecting the prison as a solution to “the crime problem,” I conclude by offering tentative recommendations on how to ameliorate Indigenous women’s experiences of carceral motherhood.

Author Biography

Isabel Scheuneman Scott, University of Alberta

Isabel Scheuneman Scott is a SSHRC-funded doctoral student in the department of Sociology at the University of Alberta. Her PhD research explores incarcerated Indigenous women’s storytelling by critically examining newsletters produced by women in the former Prison for Women in Kingston, Ontario.

Prior to beginning her doctoral studies, Isabel worked and volunteered in the social service sector in British Columbia at various non-profit organizations whose work endeavoured to assist people in disadvantaged communities who were experiencing homelessness, poverty, mental health issues, substance (ab)use, and criminalization.

Isabel completed her SSHRC-funded MA at the University of Ottawa, in Ontario. Based on this research, she published a peer-reviewed article in the Annual Review of Interdisciplinary Justice Research. Isabel completed her BA at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in her hometown of Surrey, British Columbia.