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

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

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.

COPE webinar: ‘Keeping children connected to a parent in prison in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond’

27th May 2020

This Children of Prisoners Europe (COPE) webinar featured a series of insightful presentations, subsequent questions and discussion about the challenges that the pandemic presents for prisons, and in particular for prisoners and their families.

New project: IPRT Children and Families Initiative

21st May 2020

IPRT is excited to announce that we are embarking on a new three-year project on families of prisoners, aiming to reduce harm for children and families affected by imprisonment, with a particular focus...

UK: Crest publishes ‘Children of Prisoners: Fixing a broken system’

19th March 2019

A new report by Crest (UK) indicates that revised estimates on the number of children impacted by parental imprisonment are over 50% higher than figures previously used.

Principles of Action for Children with a Parent in Prison: Document Launch

6th September 2017

This ‘Principles of Action for Children with a Parent in Prison’ document is based on a project initiative undertaken by Dr. Fiona Donson, Dr. Aisling Parkes, School of Law, University College Cork, the Children’s Rights Alliance and IPRT.

UK Report (2017) highlights ‘family ties at the heart of prison reform.’

10th August 2017

Lord Farmer’s report (2017) The Importance of Strengthening Prisoners' Family Ties to Prevent Reoffending and Reduce Intergenerational Crime was undertaken in collaboration with the charity Clinks and commissioned by the UK government. The report aimed to establish a link between a prisoner’s relationship with family and a reduction in reoffending. The report was part of the government’s strategy to overhaul prison policy, and according to Lord Farmer it is intended to be one of the biggest overhauls in a generation. The report was commissioned to act as a point of reference for the Secretary of State as he “rolls out the wider reform programme”.

National Advocacy Strategy for Children with a Parent in Prison

6th July 2017

IPRT is collaborating with University College Cork and the Children’s Rights Alliance, in a project which has the overall aim of developing a National Advocacy Strategy for children with a parent in prison.

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



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