HM Inspectorate of Prisons has published a new report detailing the importance for prisoners of maintaining relationships with those outside prison.
'Life in Prison: Contact with families and friends' details the importance of maintaining relationships for both the prisoners and their family members. This is illustrated by the interviews conducted within the paper showing that over half of those interviewed planned to move into the homes of family members following release. Further outlined is the developmental importance to children of prisoners in keeping up a relationship with their incarcerated parent.
The report recommends the improvement of standards of communication so that there is improved quality and consistency as to availability of communication. This is due to the necessity of maintaining outside relationships in terms of prisoner rehabilitation and limiting any adverse effects on those they have relationships with, their families in particular.
The report's recommendations include:
- The inclusion of staff who have a family support role;
- In-cell telephones to be installed in prisons and included in newly developed prisons;
- That prisoners should be allowed to receive phone calls from their children (dependent on a risk assessment);
- Risk assessed and supervised Skype calls or contact through social media should be allowed and evaluated with the findings published;
- Restricted family access should not be used as a punishment for unrelated misconduct;
- Prisons should consult with visitors in order to improve the experience of visitation;
- Strategies should be developed to maintain and improve support networks for the rehabilitation of prisoners;
- Administrative delays surrounding visitation should not impact the length of these visits.