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.

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.

Survey: COVID-19 and Beyond – Families of Prisoners in Ireland

22nd June 2021

*This survey is closed.* Do/have you had a family member in prison in Ireland during COVID-19? We'd like to hear from you!

UK: Protecting the best interests of the child when sentencing a primary carer

18th May 2021

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has submitted a series of proposed amendments to legislation that would amplify the rights of children of parents facing custodial sentences.

UK: The Impact of COVID-19 Prison Lockdowns on Children With a Parent in Prison

15th March 2021

A new report by Dr. Shona Minson at the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford draws on research undertaken during the first national lockdown and highlights issues faced by children whose parents were in prison during that time.

“I am worried about the lasting impact this will have”: The experiences of people with a family member in prison during COVID-19

10th September 2020

IPRT conducted a small-scale survey of people with a family member in prison in Ireland during COVID-19 restrictions in late July/early August. We hope the results of this survey will go some way towards raising awareness of the issues faced by children and families with a relative in prison among the public.

First meeting of a network focused on change for children and families affected by imprisonment

14th August 2020

On 14th August, IPRT and UCC hosted the first meeting of a network designed to bring about positive sustained change for children and families affected by imprisonment. We were delighted to welcome Vice President of Children of Prisoners Europe, Rachel Brett, to speak about advocy in this area.

Survey: Do/did you have a family member in prison in Ireland during COVID-19 restrictions?

24th July 2020

*This survey is closed.* This survey aims to help the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) get a sense of how COVID-19 restrictions have impacted/are impacting families of prisoners in Ireland. The survey closes on Thursday 13th August 2020.

UK: Human Rights Committee publishes report on the response to children whose mothers are in prison during the COVID-19 pandemic

3rd July 2020

The Committee finds that the right to family life of children whose mothers are in prison in England and Wales risks being breached, and proposes that the Government ends the blanket ban on children visiting prisons.

IPRT welcomes plans to recommence physical visits to prisons

23rd June 2020

MEDIA ADVISORY: IPRT has welcomed the publication of plans for the gradual reintroduction of physical family visits to prisons but notes that it is crucial that video visits are retained alongside physical visits.

‘Reopening prisons’: Easing of COVID-19 restriction measures

22nd June 2020

IPRT has gathered examples of prison administrations internationally who have eased or who are beginning to ease their COVID-19 restriction measures relating to in-person visiting.

Our work is supported by

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

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