Maintaining Family Ties: The Disparities between Policy and Practice Following Maternal Imprisonment in England And Wales

Date

2018-01

Advisors

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DOI

Volume Title

Publisher

Cambridge Scholars Publishing

Type

Book chapter

Peer reviewed

Yes

Abstract

This chapter focusses on the policy landscape concerning the children and families of female prisoners in England and Wales. Specifically, it traces an emerging discourse in penal and policy documents which has fixated on the way in which family relationships can play a crucial role in reducing reoffending. Motivated by this link between family and recidivism, successive governments have appeared to advocate and support prisoners to maintain their family ties. The chapter reveals empirical evidence, from a qualitative study conducting semi-structured interviews of 30 family members, to critically examine how families experienced staying in contact following a mothers’ imprisonment in England and Wales. The findings demonstrate distinct disparities and contradictions between the policy rhetoric, and the inadequate provisions available to families as they attempted to remain in contact within the constraints of the prison context.

Looking at these issues from the rights of the child raises questions around the moral and legal responsibility of the state and prison service. Genuine commitment is required from the government to ensure that prisons are equipped and operating effectively to deliver appropriate provisions for meaningful mother-child contact. This study strongly recommends that a unit is formed within central government, tasked with the responsibility and accountability for the children and families of prisoners, to address these disparities and contradictions.

Description

Keywords

Mothers in prison; Prisoners' chidlren; Prison; Qualitative research

Citation

Booth, N., (2018) Maintaining Family Ties: The Disparities between Policy and Practice Following Maternal Imprisonment in England And Wales. In: Gordon, L., (ed.) Contemporary research and analysis on the children of prisoners: invisible children. Cambridge: Cambridge Publishers Ltd.pp. 155-171

Rights

Research Institute

Institute for Research in Criminology, Community, Education and Social Justice