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Prisoners' families have been referred to as the forgotten victims of crime. Why should society be concerned to support such families? Describe the measure that you consider can best be used to offer this support.

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Introduction

Prisoners' families have been referred to as the forgotten victims of crime. Why should society be concerned to support such families? Describe the measure that you consider can best be used to offer this support. The current prison population in England and Wales is reaching 80,0001 and in the coming year there will be a further 150,000 people being sentenced to imprisonment2. Being subjected to the punishment of being held in custody can be a devastating and life changing experience for a person. It can also have a huge effect on the prisoners' family, damaging the way they work and function, making them the "forgotten victims" 3 of the Penal System. Matthews work on the prisoner's family was backed by Shaw4 whose detailed work provided figures that around 100,000 children are affected every year from their parents being imprisoned. His work went on to illustrate how proper visits should be made available, it was in the interest of the child, regardless of the prisoner's interests. It was also pointed out that in recent years there have been several advances in victim support agencies, but few for the forgotten victims. Considering this, there is still no statutory agency that caters for the needs of the prisoners' families. There are increasing numbers of aid and support groups that represent and help the prisoners' families. ...read more.

Middle

It is vital that the family receive honest, reliable information from the solicitor, so they can prepare for the worst which would be the family member sentenced to custody. It would be possible that at this stage that the solicitor put the family in contact with suitable support groups that could aid their struggle form the outset. The Probation Service and probation volunteers can be used as outlet for the family, though a study in 1989 found that only 19% of the families used in the study were contacted at this stage by the probation service17. There are some organisations, which offer support for the family, support that only arose after recommendations, in the 1988 national conference18 in Bristol. The families ordeal continues throughout the custody sentence, bringing further issues into light, including problems with visiting the prisoner, financial difficulties rehabilitation courses and, as mentioned the breakdown of the relationship, especially that between the child and the parent. Help for the families can be found in support groups. These are fundamental in helping the family cope with the situation. They give advice, information that is vital to aid the family in getting over the emotional and practical difficulties that imprisonment can cause. The group, Action for Prisoners Families (APF) is an example of such an umbrella group, they have a helpline that is available for the families. ...read more.

Conclusion

Gunn and D.P. Farrington, eds, Abnormal Offenders, Delinquency, and the Criminal Justice System, Chichester: Wiley. Pp. 113-28 12 http://ww.derbygripe.co.uk/prison.htm 13 Boswell, G., Imprisoned Fathers; The Children's View p18., The Howard Journal Vol 41 No 1 Feb 2002 14 Maguire, Morgan, Reiner, 2002, The Oxford Handbook of Criminology, Third Edition, Oxford, page 671 15 BBC News, 'UK Call to keep mothers out of prison',(1999) http://newssearch.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/504642.stm 16 Matthews, J.(1983) Forgotten Victims, NACRO 17 Smith, S. (1989) Prisoners' Families and the Voluntary Sector, in Light, R. (ed) 1989 Prisoners Families, Bristol, Bristol Centre for Criminal Justice 18 Light, R (1993) Prisoners Families, Bristol and Bath Centre for Criminal Justice, Bristol, page 7 19 Action for Prisoners Families 2004, "Is Anyone Listening?" Briefing on the first year of the prisoners Families Helpline 20 Action for Prisoners Families 2004, "Is Anyone Listening?" Briefing on the first year of the prisoners Families Helpline 21 McMullen, R and Kain, J., Providing Information to people in Prison (2003), Department for Constitutional Affairs, www.dca.goc.uk/family/fla/chap28.pdf 22 http://www.prisonersfamilieshelpline.org.uk./php/bin/readarticle.php?articlecode=9250 23 Monger, M. and Pendleton, J ., Through Care with Prisoners' Families, Social Work Studies No.3, University of Nottingham (1980) 24 McMullen, R and Kain, J., Providing Information to people in Prison (2003), Department for Constitutional Affairs, www.dca.goc.uk/family/fla/chap28.pdf 25 Barret, M (2003) Nacro Prison & Race Services Directorate 26 Matthews, J.(1983) Forgotten Victims, London, NACRO ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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