Golden Thread: Building Family Bonds and Parenting Skills as a Means to Reduce Recidivism in European Prisons
With more than half million people behind bars in Europe, prisoner rehabilitation has grown to become one of the most prominent features of European penal policy. International law stipulates that imprisonment should not be limited to the deprivation of liberty alone. It should include opportunities for prisoners to obtain knowledge and skills that can assist them in their successful reintegration upon release, with a view to avoiding future offending. Until today, receiving general education and vocational training have been considered the two most successful means for the successful reform and return and reintegration of prisoners back into the society. However, a growing body of research, unveils the fact that one of the strongest predictors of the reduction of recidivism is – along employment – the existence of strong familial ties.
The role of the family in reducing recidivism and supporting reintegration is now for the first time considered as “part of the solution”. In the words of the famous Farmer Review “healthy, supportive relationships are not just a “nice to have” for every prisoner in the criminal justice system. They are utterly indispensable if they are to turn away from criminality and contribute positively to society. Family and other relationships need to be a golden thread running through the criminal justice system”. Strong families have a natural power to provide the much-needed ongoing direction and personal support a reformed ex-prisoner needs to start anew. Strong families are a moral compass that re-direct (ex)offenders away from crime. Strong families offer shelter and financial assistance, in the days that follow the release. But, strong familial ties benefit not only prisoners, but society as a whole. Given that the majority of prisoners’ families are profoundly motivated to help their prisoners serving sentences build a better life for themselves, free from offending patterns of behaviour, they constitute a potential army of support for the prison system that has not yet been strategically and consistently deployed.
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More information about the project:
Adam Gogacz, adam(at)gogacz.eu
Marta Kędzia, mkedzia(at)euframe.eu
Katarzyna Kasznicka, katarzyna.kasznicka(at)interia.pl