Irish Penal Reform Trust

Children of Prisoners

Children and families coping with imprisonment are often described as the ‘hidden’ victims of the penal system because they must endure their own sentence, despite not having perpetrated any crime. There are a variety of ways in which children and families can be affected by imprisonment including: disruption to child care arrangements, relationship breakdowns, financial loss and stigmatisation.

IPRT works towards the recognition and support of the rights and needs of children and families affected by imprisonment through research, advocacy, and awareness-raising activities. This includes an exciting three-year project (commenced in mid-2020) on families of prisoners, aiming to reduce harm for children and families affected by imprisonment, with a particular focus on reducing female imprisonment. We’re very grateful to our funders, Katharine Howard Foundation and St Stephen’s Green Trust, for supporting such a timely piece of work. You can read more about the network of organisations working in the area set up under the project on actionforfamilies.ie.

Please note this section contains information about advocacy and developments, both national and international. Practical information for prisoners and their families is available here.

IPRT Submission to the Draft State Report to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

10th November 2021

This submission invites the Department to closely consider the key findings and recommendations of IPRT’s 'Piecing It Together: Supporting Children and Families with a Family Member in Prison in Ireland' report before finalising the State Report.

UK: Counting the Cost of Maternal Imprisonment

25th October 2021

This research found that a deep distrust of local authority social services, compounded by poor communication and information sharing, forms a significant barrier to engaging mothers with services that could help prevent them from offending and support prolonged desistance.

UK: Motherhood Challenged

18th October 2021

This executive summary of doctoral research by Dr Lucy Baldwin is based on in-depth research with 43 criminalised mothers, recording their experiences from their early lives, contact with the criminal justice system, prison and release.

Action for Children and Families of Prisoners submission to the Review of Prison Rules

14th October 2021

The IPRT co-chaired Action for Children and Families of Prisoners network made a submission to the consultation on the review of the Prison Rules 2007, with a specific focus on sections that relate to the work of the network.

UK: “Maternal Imprisonment Polling Shows Clear Support for Better Services in the Community”

28th September 2021

Crest Advisory recently polled 2,500 members of the British public in order to assess attitudes regarding maternal imprisonment. 56% of those surveyed believed that the funding for 500 new prison places should be redirected to fund support services for women instead.

ICPO survey of Irish prisoners overseas

26th August 2021

The Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas (ICPO) undertook a global survey of the 1,100 Irish people imprisoned overseas, resulting in 114 anonymous responses. Issues covered relate to life in prison and the impact of COVID-19.

Northern Ireland: Parental contact allowed during prison visits

20th July 2021

The Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) has re-introduced contact between parents and children under 11. This follows the resumption of in-person prison visits in Northern Ireland on 4 May.

Round up: Launch of Piecing It Together: Supporting Children and Families with a Family Member in Prison

15th July 2021

'Piecing it Together' was launched by Ombudsman for Children, Dr. Niall Muldoon, virtually on 15 July 2021.

Opportunities to improve outcomes for children with a parent in prison are being missed – IPRT

15th July 2021

MEDIA ADVISORY: New report on children and families with a family member in prison in Ireland highlights a number of significant gaps in their treatment.

Piecing It Together: Supporting Children and Families with a Family Member in Prison in Ireland

15th July 2021

Piecing It Together: Supporting Children and Families with a Family Member in Prison in Ireland assesses progress on a series of recommendations made by IPRT in "Picking up the Pieces" in 2012.

Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.

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