Examining prisoners’ families: definitions, developments and difficulties

Masson, Isla and Booth, Natalie (2018). Examining prisoners’ families: definitions, developments and difficulties. The Howard League ECAN Bulletin, (39) pp. 15 - 20.

URL: https://howardleague.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/1...


The special attention currently being paid to prisoners’ family relationships in recent penal and policy discourse has focussed on the importance of maintaining and developing family relationships for the purpose of reducing re-reoffending (for example the Female Offender Strategy, 2018 and Farmer Review, 2017; HM Inspectorate of Prisons, HM Inspectorate of Probation and Ofsted, 2014; HMI Prisons, 2016). In a recent paper published in the Probation journal we explored whether the Ministry of Justice’s long awaited and much needed female offender strategy can deliver any of its promises. Within the paper we urged a ‘consideration of the diverse forms of ‘family’ alongside women’s lived experience and their histories that may feature abuse and dysfunctional relationships’ (Booth, Masson and Baldwin, 2018: 6). We suggest that in conjunction with the greater pressure applied to prisoners’ sustaining relationships with family members, it is vital to unpick exactly what is meant by ‘family’ and how this might incorporate diverse forms of close, personal and intimate relationships for people in prison. Without a critical and reflective consideration of these relationships, there are possible barriers to understanding what support is needed by some of our most vulnerable citizens resulting in additional pains of imprisonment.

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