Families Outside, the only national charity in Scotland that works solely support families affected by imprisonment, is sending MSPs to prison.
One of the greatest challenges families affected by imprisonment face, especially children, is visiting the prison to see their loved ones. This is extremely important, because research shows that prisoners who have regular contact with their families are up to six times less likely to reoffend.
Children who have a parent in prison are three times more likely to suffer significant mental ill health. We also know that contact with their imprisoned parent is crucial in maintaining children’s emotional wellbeing and capacity for resilience.
There can be no doubt, therefore, that regular contact (where appropriate) is not only beneficial to our prison population and their children and families, but also to Scotland’s economy and society as a whole. Moreover, it is the right thing to do: these children and families are not guilty but in effect serve the sentence alongside the person in prison.
To help policy makers understand the challenges of prison visits Families Outside has invited all MSPs to use public transport to visit their local prison.
Prof Nancy Loucks, Chief Executive at Families Outside said:
“Public transport can be expensive, and distances can be huge. We’ve recently been working with a family in Shetland where the father often takes his daughter to HMP Grampian so that she can see her mother – that’s a 24-hour round trip. This is an extreme example, but even visits on the mainland can take significant time depending on where the family is in relation to the prison.
“Trying to complete these journeys with children can make them even more challenging. Anyone who has children of their own will have faced similar experiences, but instead of ending up at a zoo or a theme park, you end up at prison security where you, and the rest of your family, are then searched and surveilled.”
Families Outside has planned the campaign to coincide with the 2018 Year of the Young People and will be taking MSPs on a tour of the prison, the visitor services, and the family support initiatives. In this way MSPs can see for themselves the challenges that families face as well as the fantastic work can be implemented to support them.
Send your MSP to prison by writing to them via https://www.writetothem.com/
Notes to Editors:
- Families Outside is a national Scottish charity and the only organisation in Scotland to work exclusively on behalf of families affected by imprisonment. More information is available at www.familiesoutside.org.uk
- Media enquiries should be sent to Todd Henshaw, Communication & Marketing Manager at Families Outside firstname.lastname@example.org