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Dr Lucy Baldwin

Job: Senior Lecturer/Researcher in Community and Criminal Justice

Faculty: Health and Life Sciences

School/department: School of Applied Social Sciences

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH.

T: +44 (0)116 207 8358




Personal profile

Dr Lucy Baldwin has been a Senior lecturer in Criminology based in the Community & Criminal Justice Division, located within the Health and Life Sciences faculty of De Montfort University since 2004 . Lucy is a qualified social worker and probation officer and has professional practice experience from a wide range of community and custodial settings. 

Lucy has provided oral and written evidence to several parliamentary inqiries and her research and research activism has influenced policy and practice nationally and internationally within the criminal justice system.  Lucy's edited collection 'Mothering Justice;Working with Mothers in Criminal and Social Justice Settings' was the first whole book in the UK to have taken motherhood and criminal justice as its sole focus. Her Doctoral Research, is the largest study on maternal imprisonment in the UK. 

Her recent and forthcoming publications include work exploring the relationship between prison space and maternal emotion, grandmothers in custody and as carers for children with a mother in prison,  the imact and harm of short prison sentences on mothers and their children. the impact of prison on maternal identity and role, and the need for long term emotional support for post custodial mothers and their families.

 Lucy has worked with partners in  the public, private and charitable sectors,  to improve outcomes for criminalised mothers and has developed evidence-based programs for mothers in custody and the community. She has also developed and delivered staff training related to work with mothers in the CJS, and has provided toolkits for staff to use in that work. She is regularly engaged in partnerships and consultation related to maternal imprisonment. 

Lucy co-convened and co leads the Women, Family Crime and Justice Research Network, which has produced successful two edited collections and will go on produce more as the network continues. 

Lucy is also a trustee and an external examiner, and a regular reviewer for respected journals and a passionate campainger for reform.  






Research group affiliations

  • Emotions & Criminal Justice Cluster DMU
  • Reproduction Research Cluster DMU
  • Prisons and Probation Hub

Publications and outputs

  • Out of Sight Out of Mind: Arguing the Case for Social Workers in Women’s Prisons
    Out of Sight Out of Mind: Arguing the Case for Social Workers in Women’s Prisons Baldwin, Lucy; Parent, Katia; Wray, Becky; Mulcahy, Jo Following his review of women convicted of crime, Farmer (2019), recommended the presence of Social Workers in all women’s prisons. He recognised this would go some way towards responding to the often unmet needs of women in prison, especially those who were mothers. This paper firstly explores the research evidence described by Lord Farmer as having made a 'significant contribution' to his understanding and subsequent recommendation. The paper goes on the provide an early reflection on the first year of the subsequently developed 3-year pilot project which sees two qualified social workers based in women's prisons. The paper describes work the social workers are undertaking. The first year of the project has already provided a strong evidence base for the need for Social Workers in women’s prisons. We conclude the paper by arguing strongly for the prison Social Worker role to be extended and supported permanently in all women’s prisons. We would argue that social work training should include knowledge and understanding about the importance of supporting imprisoned mothers and their children, more effectively and consistently than currently occurs. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. Open access article.
  • Feminist Ethics and Research with Women in Prison
    Feminist Ethics and Research with Women in Prison Quinlan, Christina; Baldwin, Lucy; Booth, Natalie In this article, we propose a new model, An Ethic of Empathy, as a guide for researchers, particularly new scholars to the discipline. This model emerged from our concerns regarding the application of ethics and research to women in criminal justice systems. The key issue is the vulnerability of incarcerated and post-release women in relationship to the powerful status of social scientists whose studies focus on the experiences of female offenders. in these circumstances. We believe that the complexity of ethics in such research settings necessitates a particular ethical preparation, involving formation, reflection, understanding, commitment, care, and empathy. We outline three cases, documenting our own ethical formation as researchers.
  • Prison and Probation Research Hub: Consultation of Prisons Strategy White Paper
    Prison and Probation Research Hub: Consultation of Prisons Strategy White Paper Knight, Victoria; Little, Ross; Baldwin, Lucy; Collett, Nicola This is the PPHub's response to the recent MOJ White Paper on Prisons Strategy launch Dec 2021.
  • Maternal imprisonment
    Maternal imprisonment Baldwin, Lucy This evidence review provides an in-depth look at the issue of maternal imprisonment and the impact of this imprisonment on the children affected, the mothers themselves and the family members (typically grandmothers) who take over childcare responsibilities. It covers a number of key issues: The extent of maternal imprisonment in the UK and the numbers of children affected The impact on children The impact on mothers, both in prison and on release The impact on family carers and family relationships The response of the criminal justice system Recommendations for change. An invited entry contribution to CLINKS growing evidence library covering key issues in criminal justice in the UK.
  • Incarcerated Motherhood; reflecting on 100 Years of Imprisoning Mothers
    Incarcerated Motherhood; reflecting on 100 Years of Imprisoning Mothers Baldwin, Lucy; Abbott, Laura This paper reflects on a century of maternal imprisonment in the United Kingdom. Examining the historical context of incarcerated mothers, grandmothers and mothers -to be, it explores the relationship between patriarchy, religion, culture, motherhood ideology and criminal justice. Revealing how each has been and continues to be inextricably linked to frustrate, disadvantage and discriminate against mothers who break the law. Drawing on the extensive research of the authors, 1 this paper brings the conversation into the 21st Century. Centring the voices of mothers we highlight mothers’ own experiences of their incarceration, revealing the profound hurt of imprisoned motherhood. The paper is concluded with recommendations drawn from our respective research and activism. open access journal
  • Executive Summary of Doctoral Research Motherhood Challenged: Exploring the persisting impact of maternal imprisonment on maternal identity and role
    Executive Summary of Doctoral Research Motherhood Challenged: Exploring the persisting impact of maternal imprisonment on maternal identity and role Baldwin, Lucy This summary, taken from the Doctoral research of the author, extracts the key recommendations and findings from the original research. The report focus is on the Mothers' voices and the way forward. The report centers on the descriptions of the 43 mothers who contributed to the study, and who through letters and interviews revealed the significant impact of maternal imprisonment. The report reveals the missed and lost opportunities to support mothers and motherhood before, during, and after prison. The mothers powerfully describe their pain and challenges through their criminal justice journeys and beyond. Many mothers and grandmothers describe how they and their children and grandchildren continue to be deeply affected by maternal imprisonment, sometimes even decades post-release. The mothers reveal how their maternal identity, their maternal emotions, and their maternal experiences intertwine with their experiences of the criminal justice system and how ultimately this has relevance to their rehabilitation and desistance. The report concludes with recommendations for policy and practice change that if implemented would make a significant difference in the lives of criminalised mothers and their children. The full text of the PhD can be found at:
  • Criminal Mothers: The persisting pains of maternal imprisonment
    Criminal Mothers: The persisting pains of maternal imprisonment Baldwin, Lucy Feminist research strives to illuminate voice, especially women’s voices, facilitating their authentic reproduction is an essential aspect to feminist research principles (Oakley 2016, Renzetti 2013, Baldwin forthcoming 2021). Like each chapter in Carlen et al’s ‘Criminal Women’ (1985), this chapter centres the women’s own experience and voice. Taking motherhood as its focus and via two criminalised mothers’ narratives, the chapter examines what occurs when the worlds of motherhood and criminal justice collide. Drawing on the authors Doctoral researchii the chapter demonstrates how ideas, ideals and expectations of motherhood still shape perceptions of female law breakers who are also mothers. Furthermore, this then impacts on mothers’ own perceptions of themselves and their ability to mother well. The chapter demonstrates the subsequent unequal, additional and enduring impact of imprisonment on mothers themselves and on their children. Importantly although the chapter highlights many of the harms of criminalisation and imprisonment, it is hoped it also reminds of the uniqueness and difference, the strength and resilience in the narratives of mothers who come into contact with the criminal justice system. Drawing additionally on evidence from the authors’ research findings, the chapter offers important considerations in relation to the ‘desistance journey’ of criminal mothers, calling for the application of a matricentric feminist lens in individual and structural responses to criminalised mothers and more broadly, for the development a feminist matricentric criminology (Baldwin 2018). This chapter was written with two criminalised mothers Mary Elwood and Cassie Brown (pseudonyms )
  • Presence, Voice and Reflexivity in Feminist and Creative Research: A personal and professional reflection
    Presence, Voice and Reflexivity in Feminist and Creative Research: A personal and professional reflection Baldwin, Lucy Abstract Feminist research seeks to authenticate, substantiate and illuminate women's thoughts, feelings and experiences (Oakley, 2016; Renzetti, 2013; Maynard and Purvis, 1994). Trusting the memories, accounts and assimilated experiences of participants, and their authentic reproduction is an essential aspect to feminist research principles, whether those memories and experiences are recent or distant. This is particularly important concerning a population who are so often mistrusted, silenced, unheard or muted, i.e. prisoners, criminalised women, and children (Baldwin in Lockwood, forthcoming, Bozkurt and Aresti 2019, O'Malley 2018, Wahidin 2004). Aresti et al (2016), argue that lack of visibility and voice in academic criminological research results in prisoners and criminalised individuals often being excluded from the processes of research, furthermore, often being entirely invisible in the products of research, (i.e. research reports, theses, dissertations). Feminist researchers Oakley (1981, 2016), Finch (1984), and Maynard and Purvis (1994) highlight the importance of increased and evidenced reflexivity, alongside a minimisation of power imbalance. Which, they argue can be achieved at least in part, by not viewing research participants as simply being done to as opposed to researched with. Thus, in feminist research, reflexivity is essential, as are the presence and voices of research participants as evident in the process and products of research. This chapter explored the research dynamic between researcher and researched in feminist studies, highlighting and arguing for greater involvement of participants in research, and more creative means of generating knowledge and understanding. The chapter has a global reach in terms of its application. It will identify examples of particularly interactive and creative research and conclude with recommendations for good practice internationally.
  • Motherhood Challenged: A matricentric feminist study exploring the persisting impact of maternal imprisonment on maternal identity and role
    Motherhood Challenged: A matricentric feminist study exploring the persisting impact of maternal imprisonment on maternal identity and role Baldwin, Lucy Matricentric Feminism, Feminist Methodology, Mothers, Motherhood, Mothers and prison, Criminalised women, Gender and prison, women post-prison, post-prison motherhood, Feminist criminology, penology and gender, women and crime, mothers and crime, sentencing, women and rehabilitation, women and probation, maternal identity. 9. Please provide the text of the abstract: Abstract The persistent pains of maternal imprisonment, especially beyond five years post-release, is underexplored. A particular knowledge deficit concerns maternal identity and role. This study combined feminist and matricentric lenses to explore criminalised motherhood through prison and beyond. A matricentric-feminist criminological methodology was developed and applied, forming part of the original contribution of the thesis. In line with matricentric and feminist principles, 43 criminalised mothers contributed to the design and execution of this qualitative study through one-to-one interviews and letters. This research centres the Mothers and their voices, and, in a loyally feminist methodology, a reflexive exploration of my positionality as a mother, grandmother, former practitioner, and researcher is recognised, accounted for, and included in the thesis. The Mothers described criminalised motherhood as a paradox; they experienced judgement, discrimination and oppression alongside joy and hope. When motherhood was combined with criminalisation, the judgement and gaze the Mothers experienced in a patriarchally constructed and influenced society were magnified. Navigating through the criminal justice system and especially through imprisonment was a painful experience for Mothers. Not least because of the physical separation from children, but additionally due to institutional thoughtlessness and lack of recognition concerning their maternal identity, maternal emotions, and maternal role; which occurred at every stage of the criminal justice system. The investigation produced new knowledge and understanding about the profound, traumatic, and enduring impact of maternal imprisonment. The impact was intergenerational and had implications for Mothers wellbeing, engagement in rehabilitation and desistance. Further original contribution is demonstrated in the knowledge gained about the experiences of criminalised grandmothers, again especially in relation to maternal identity and role. The findings conclude with matricentric-feminist criminological recommendations for research, policy and practice that would contribute to understanding and challenging the social, political, and criminal justice context of mothers who break the law. If implemented, they would lead to fewer mothers being imprisoned and better outcomes for criminalised mothers, which in turn would facilitate better outcomes for children and society. This thesis is dedicated to Beth and Emma, two mums who tragically died during this study. They are not forgotten, and this work is dedicated to their memory and the memory of all those who tragically have lost their lives in or after prison.
  • ‘A Life Sentence’: The long-term impact of maternal imprisonment
    ‘A Life Sentence’: The long-term impact of maternal imprisonment Baldwin, Lucy In the last decade research surrounding ‘maternal imprisonment’, has become more visible, the topic has garnered interest and attention in the UK in a way it had not previously enjoyed. For example, existing UK research includes; explored maternal imprisonment and the rights of the child in sentencing (Epstein, 2012; Minson 2014; Prison Reform Trust, 2015), young motherhood, stigma and prison, (Sharpe, 2015), maternal imprisonment and the wider impact on the family (Booth, 2017; Masson, 2014), and maternal identity and maternal emotion Baldwin, 2015, 2017, 2018; Lockwood, 2013; Rowe, 2011). However, except for Baldwin, 2017, 2018, less well documented, are the long-term effects of maternal imprisonment, both in relation to the wider family and for mothers themselves. This paper, drawing on the authors own research, seeks to explore the longer-term impact for post-release mothers. The chapter, drawing on interviews, questionnaires, letters from across several research projects, will explore particularly, the long-term impact of imprisonment on maternal identity and emotions. Mothers in the research described how they assumed that release from prison would mean a ‘return to normal’, that life would carry on much as it has prior to their sentence. The reality was however that mothers felt forever ‘tainted’ (Baldwin, 2017), by their prison experience, they felt like ‘failures’’ as mothers, and this pervading sense of now being a ‘bad mother’ affected their relationships with their children and families and their own self-worth. These post-prison mothers and grandmothers described struggling to reintegrate into their families, to re-establish themselves in their previous roles. They described amongst other things, feeling ‘judged’, ‘powerless’, ‘suicidal’, ‘invisible’ in their own homes. The longed-for release had brought with it many issues the women had not anticipated nor prepared for, and this had an impact on their ability to cope, and sometimes on their desistance. If we are to continue to send mothers to prison, and arguably the preferred option is wherever possible we don’t; then more must be done to support mothers and children affected by the criminal justice system. This paper highlights the relevance and importance of emotionally supporting mothers both during the custodial period and importantly, post-release in the community. Working with mothers via a matricentric criminological approach, assisting them to maintain an active mothering role during their sentence will prove beneficial in terms of maintaining relationships. Supporting mothers and families in the often-challenging period of re-integration will assist successful resettlement. Failure to do so may impact negatively, not only positive outcomes for mothers themselves but also on the mothers’ ability to engage in sentence planning/supervision and therefore resistance. Which ultimately will further impact on the children and wider society. The chapter provides the post-prison context in an edited collection focussing on issues related to mothers in prison. It is an original contribution to knowledge based on my research findings.

 Click here for a full listing of Lucy Baldwin's publications and outputs.

Key research outputs

Research interests/expertise

  • Mothers and Prison
  • Mothers and Sentencing
  • Maternal Identity and Maternal Role
  • Maternal Imprisonment
  • Trauma Informed Practice
  • Mothers and Probation
  • Pregnancy and Prison


  • PhD. Doctorate in Community and Criminal Justice
  • Masters in Applied Social Studies (Durham University)
  • Dip. Social Work (Durham University)
  • BA (Hons) Applied Social Studies and Psychology (University of Sunderland)
  • Cert RS.(Cerificate in Research Supervision) De Montfort University
  • Ad Cert CTS. Advanced Certificate in Counselling
  • Theory and Skills. (CSCT)NVQ Assessors 

Honours and awards

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy 
  • Fellow Royal Society of Arts 

Membership of external committees


Membership of professional associations and societies

  • BASW (British Association of Social Workers)
  • BSA (British Sociological Association )
  • COPE (children of prisoners Europe)
  • Womens Breakout (national organisation working  for alternatives to custody for women)
  • BSC (British Society of Criminology)


  • Co-facilitator with Victoria Knight for the 1st National ‘Emotions & Criminal Justice Conference ‘18th Feb 2016. 
  • Joint Research with Rona Epstein (Coventry University) Women, Mothers and Short Custodial Sentences.

Case studies

Impact case Study Ref 2021

Lucy Baldwin-profile