Imprisoned Fathers and their Children

By Gwyneth Boswell and Peter Wedge.
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
£15.95, ISBN 1 85302 972 6

This book draws upon research involving interviews with 201
imprisoned fathers, 127 partners or carers, 25 children and 10
staff responsible for delivering programmes for fathers in prison
and young offender institutes.

It presents the findings from this comprehensive survey under
several headings: the characteristics and perceptions of imprisoned
fathers; the effects of father imprisonment on children; existing
provision for father-child contact and the effectiveness of formal
and informal support systems; and families’ experience of
father-child contact.

An introductory chapter sets the scene with a comprehensive
review of literature that locates the issues around imprisoned
fathers in a broader context of absent fathers and summarises
debates on the place of fatherhood in child rearing.

The authors argue that policy and practice in relation to
imprisoned fathers should be grounded, as legislation requires, in
a children’s rights perspective and more needs to be done. As they
say: “The time is overdue for the children of prisoners to receive
a higher priority and for the prison system to adjust

In a rational world, governments would act on quality research
such as this, but we shall see.

David Porteous is lecturer in applied social studies,
University of Luton.

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