Irish Penal Reform Trust

Children of Prisoners

Children and families coping with imprisonment are often described as the ‘hidden’ victims of the penal system because they must endure their own sentence, despite not having perpetrated any crime. There are a variety of ways in which children and families can be affected by imprisonment including: disruption to child care arrangements, relationship breakdowns, financial loss and stigmatisation.

IPRT works towards the recognition and support of the rights and needs of children and families affected by imprisonment through research, advocacy, and awareness-raising activities. This includes an exciting three-year project (commenced in mid-2020) on families of prisoners, aiming to reduce harm for children and families affected by imprisonment, with a particular focus on reducing female imprisonment. We’re very grateful to our funders, Katharine Howard Foundation and St Stephen’s Green Trust, for supporting such a timely piece of work. You can read more about the network of organisations working in the area set up under the project on

Please note this section contains information about advocacy and developments, both national and international. Practical information for prisoners and their families is available here.

Action for Children and Families of Prisoners submission to the Review of Prison Rules

14th October 2021

The IPRT co-chaired Action for Children and Families of Prisoners network made a submission to the consultation on the review of the Prison Rules 2007, with a specific focus on sections that relate to the work of the network.

UK: “Maternal Imprisonment Polling Shows Clear Support for Better Services in the Community”

28th September 2021

Crest Advisory recently polled 2,500 members of the British public in order to assess attitudes regarding maternal imprisonment. 56% of those surveyed believed that the funding for 500 new prison places should be redirected to fund support services for women instead.

ICPO survey of Irish prisoners overseas

26th August 2021

The Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas (ICPO) undertook a global survey of the 1,100 Irish people imprisoned overseas, resulting in 114 anonymous responses. Issues covered relate to life in prison and the impact of COVID-19.

Northern Ireland: Parental contact allowed during prison visits

20th July 2021

The Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) has re-introduced contact between parents and children under 11. This follows the resumption of in-person prison visits in Northern Ireland on 4 May.

Round up: Launch of Piecing It Together: Supporting Children and Families with a Family Member in Prison

15th July 2021

'Piecing it Together' was launched by Ombudsman for Children, Dr. Niall Muldoon, virtually on 15 July 2021.

Opportunities to improve outcomes for children with a parent in prison are being missed – IPRT

15th July 2021

MEDIA ADVISORY: New report on children and families with a family member in prison in Ireland highlights a number of significant gaps in their treatment.

Piecing It Together: Supporting Children and Families with a Family Member in Prison in Ireland

15th July 2021

Piecing It Together: Supporting Children and Families with a Family Member in Prison in Ireland assesses progress on a series of recommendations made by IPRT in "Picking up the Pieces" in 2012.

Survey: COVID-19 and Beyond – Families of Prisoners in Ireland

22nd June 2021

*This survey is closed.* Do/have you had a family member in prison in Ireland during COVID-19? We'd like to hear from you!

UK: Protecting the best interests of the child when sentencing a primary carer

18th May 2021

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has submitted a series of proposed amendments to legislation that would amplify the rights of children of parents facing custodial sentences.

UK: The Impact of COVID-19 Prison Lockdowns on Children With a Parent in Prison

15th March 2021

A new report by Dr. Shona Minson at the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford draws on research undertaken during the first national lockdown and highlights issues faced by children whose parents were in prison during that time.

Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.



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