Child drawing from prison visiting centre

The role of judges

Courts decide protection and placement measures for children of prisoners who have been harmed or abused, but also affect their lives when sentencing their parents.

Any potential sentences should take into account the impact on any children; sentences that minimise the negative effects on family life should be preferred.

The court  should ensure that prisoners are imprisoned as close as possible to the family in order to facilitate contact. When there is a gap between conviction and sentencing, this time ‘in limbo’ is felt to be especially fraught. Parents may not make arrangements for their children’s care, fearing judgement and loss of custody of the children. They may try to conceal the children’s existence from social services and prisons.

Further information can be found in the DIHR and COPING reports.

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