10th March 2011

Eurochips member Exodus is a Holland-based organisation which focuses on the resocialisation and rehabilitation of ex-convicts, aiming to assist former detainees in their return to normal life, and thereby preventing a relapse into a criminal lifestyle. The organisation began its work in 1981 with a housing- and employment-programme. Over the years experience shows that Exodus’ approach helps former detainees to permanently turn their backs on criminality.

There are 11 Exodus locations operative in Holland, but also an extensive network of more than 1850 volunteers which play a vital role in overseeing a number of aspects of detainees-care. A distinctive project within this volunteer-network is the Parents, Children and Detention project (Ouders, Kinderen en Detentieproject (OKD) in Dutch).

The objective of this programme is to foster the relationship between children aged 3 -16, and their imprisoned parents in a family-friendly environment in the detention centre. Research 1 has indicated that intensified contact between detainees and their offspring increases their potential to re-socialise. Likewise, children benefit greatly, e.g. in terms of their development, from sustained contact with their detained parents, potentially averting future problems related to imprisonment.

The Parents, Children and Detention project is now operative in 19 prisons. In 2010 more than 194 volunteers supported 191 children. The nation-wide network of volunteers guarantees that children are brought to their detained parents on a regular basis, usually every month, irrespective of distance between the family-home and the detention-centre. The project is still growing and its positive results are widely acknowledged.

The role of the volunteers in this project is multi-facetted. For one, volunteers are independent within family relations, hence can function as an aid to the children which they accompany to and from the detention-centre. Another aspect in which volunteers add considerably to the programme is the fact that ordinary members of society become involved in the process of restoring family relations that are both beneficial to the children and their parents.

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Author: rmchristen