Impact of imprisonment on the prisoner parent
Parents in prison are still parents. Unless the nature of their offence does not allow it, they have the same rights as a parent outside.
Where the relationship has been close, prisoners find separation from their children painful and difficult. The hopes and fears all parents have for their children are magnified inside a prison cell, creating feelings of guilt and depression. Prisoners with long sentences know they are missing out on the milestones in their children's lives, such as first words, first steps, first days at school, school plays, sporting events and driving lessons.
I love my children. I miss them so much and my job as their father is to provide, love, care, support, listen, encourage, praise - the list is endless. I will always be there.
Keeping imprisoned parents informed and involved
As a non-resident parent, a prisoner has the same rights as a resident parent to take part in decisions affecting their child's education and to receive information about the child (unless a court order is in place limiting the exercise of parental responsibility). Many families are unaware that parents with parental responsibility are entitled to receive their children's school reports, to be consulted on their child's choice of school and their exam options until their child is 18 years old.
As very little can be taken into a prison during a visit, information from schools should be posted to a prisoner. A school can send letters or brochures direct to a prisoner using their individual prison number and the prison address. If a family prefers not to let the school know details of their home circumstances, they can ask for a second copy of all communications to be sent home to be then forwarded to the prisoner.
Prisoner parents often have contrasting experiences of communication with their children's schools:
I get everything from the school. I even got to vote for a parent governor!
Although I told the school and requested that copies of our daughter's school reports should be sent to her dad, they haven't been sent.
(Mother, partner of prisoner)
All mothers and most fathers have parental responsibility. This is not affected if the parent is imprisoned although the courts may prevent contact between parents and their children.
Information on who has parental responsibility in all parts of the UK can be found at www.gov.uk/parental-rights-responsibilities
Prisoner fathers speak
In the audio clips below, serving prisoners talk about the effect of their imprisonment on their families and themselves: