‘Prison Service must work with families’

Children suffer greatly as a result of a parent’s incarceration, a
conference was told last week.

Director of Action for Prisoners’ Families Lucy Gampell told the
conference, organised by the Howard League for Penal Reform, that
imprisonment often caused mental illness and behavioural problems
at school for children as well as stress, financial problems and
family breakdowns.

“The Prison Service must wake up to the fact that families matter,”
Gampell said. “By working with families they can break the cycle of
crime and stop people coming back through the gates.”

Action for Prisoners’ Families wants prisoners kept near their
families. Families should also be involved in preparing prisoners
for release.

“The prison system all but ignores the importance of prisoners
keeping in touch with their families,” Gampell told the conference
in Oxford. Prisoners were increasingly kept many miles from their
home, with poor transport and visiting facilities. Families were
often seen as a “necessary nuisance” rather than a positive
resource, she added.

A social exclusion unit report published last year highlighted the
importance of prisoners’ families in reducing reoffending, yet
Gampell said 43 per cent of sentenced prisoners and 48 per cent of
remand prisoners lost contact with their families after entering

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