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.

Irish Times: Parents behind bars

18th May 2010

As Ireland’s prison population grows, more children are having to cope with the stigma and loneliness of a parent in jail, writes Sheila Wayman in 'The Irish Times'.

Orphans of Justice: A Legal Analysis

23rd September 2009

Subtitled "In search of the best interests of the child when a parent is imprisoned", this paper analyses the approach of courts in a number of jurisdictions.

Impact of Parental Imprisonment on Children

28th June 2002

The Centre for Social and Educational Research, DIT, released a report investigating the effects of parental imprisonment on children. Despite the fact that those directly affected by imprisonment far exceed the number of those who are actually serving custodial sentences the topic has to date received little formal attention in Ireland.

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

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