In 2014, Bambinisezasbarre and the Italian Ministry of Justice, signed the Memorandum of Understanding regarding the fulfillment and protection of the rights of children of imprisoned parents. Signers of the document acknowledge that these minors have a right to an emotional continuing bond with their imprisoned parent and they reaffirm that the latter has a right to play his or her role in the life of their child. The document covers different aspects of the rights of these children including recommendations to judicial authorities who are encouraged to take into account the rights and needs of any underage children of an arrested or detained person who still has parental responsibility and to give priority to alternative measures to pre-trial detention in these cases.
It also includes the recommendations made by the Children of Prisoners Europe regarding conditions and provisions for children of imprisoned parents such as providing suitably equipped children’s spaces in all visiting rooms, complete with resources for babies (bottle warmers, changing tables, etc) and young children (toys, drawing tables etc). Those signing also committed to implementing all necessary actions to ensure the location of the prison for parents of minor children is compatible with guaranteeing direct contact between parent and child during the sentence. The memorandum also requires that a child is able to visit his or her imprisoned parent within a week of the arrest and on a regular basis from then on.
The Memorandum of Understanding is a revolutionary document which commits the penitentiary system to transform the relational and care aspects of prisoners, taking their parental role into consideration. It is also an important message to civil society and calls for a change in attitudes and point of view that must be on the side of the children and not focused on the side of the parents and their legal obligations. There is also a strong call for the necessity to start a process of social integration and more generally of a deeper cultural change toward the most vulnerable party: the child.
The document covers eight main topics:
Article 1: Decisions and practices concerning judicial orders, judgements and sentences
Article 2: Minors visits to prisons
Article 3: Other types of relationships with the imprisoned parent
Article 4: The training of penitentiary administrative staff and juvenile justice operators
Article 5: Information, assistance and instruction for minor children
Article 6: the collection of data on children f prisoners to improve the reception and visits to prison
Article 7: Children’s stay in prison in exceptional cases if it is impossible to provide the parent with alternatives to detention
Article 8: Establishment of a Working Table** Footnote needed
The Memorandum of Understanding was valid for two years after the signing, and was re-signed on 6 September 2016. The text has remained the same with updated preambles in order to have an updated list of current laws and provisions. The final copy of the newly signed memorandum will be available shortly.
For more information contact:
Associazione Bambinisenzasbarre Onlus
via Antonio Baldissera, 1 – 20129 Milano
Tel. +39 (0) 2-711-998
Link: http://childrenofprisoners.eu/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Memorandum-of-Understanding-English-updated-HL-08.15.pdf (2014 english version)
(Italian version not yet available)