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Children and their incarcerated parents: Maintaining Connections how kids' days at Tasmania's Risdon Prison contribute to imprisoned parent-child relationships


Toohey, J-A, Children and their incarcerated parents: Maintaining Connections - how kids' days at Tasmania's Risdon Prison contribute to imprisoned parent-child relationships, Changing the Way We Think about Change, 12-13th July, Hobart, pp. 29-40. ISBN 978-0646-59495-8 (2013) [Refereed Conference Paper]


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Copyright 2012 The Author Licenced under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0)

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To many in our society, the impact of imprisonment on offenders and their families is a matter of little or no consequence. In the face of everyday issues such as meeting financial demands, finding a balance between work and family commitments, attempting to access services in a less than satisfactory healthcare scheme and worrying about the state of the education system for our children, the needs of the families of offenders is not an issue of concern for many members of the public. Furthermore, in a political climate where to be perceived as being 'soft on crime' can cause the loss of crucial votes, advocating on behalf of prisoners' families is an unwise platform for any politician seeking office. Prisoners are often assumed to have 1got what they deserved' - such a notion is at the heart of the overly simplistic yet frequently used adage 'If you do the crime, you do the time.' This one-dimensional, retributive attitude towards punishment neither critically questions why we punish as we do, nor takes into account the wider, 'ripple effect' of imprisonment.

The Honourable Justice David Harper said:

If truth is the first victim of war, one of the first victims of crime is objectivity in the debate about punishment. No topic of general interest is tackled with less reason or reasonableness. No subject is more vulnerable to rank political opportunism, media irresponsibility or meanness of spirit. And it is the latter which particularly affects the families, including innocent children, of prisoners. They, too, are the victims of crime {cited Tudball 2000: Forward)

Parental incarceration affects a large and increasing number of children, many of whom face significant uncertainty in nearly every aspect of their lives. The Honourable Alastair Nicholson, in his endorsement of the Action Paper (Hannon, 2007) produced by the Victorian Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (VACRO) expressed the opinion that Australia, as one of the principal protagonists of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNROC, 1989) has little cause to congratulate itself in upholding the tenets of that charter. It is his view that the cause of human rights in general, and children's rights in particular, have suffered considerably over the last decade, particularly at Federal !eve!, but also at State and Territory level. While attention is most often focused on the victims of crime (as ideals of a humanitarian approach would warrant), it is often forgotten that children of prisoners are also victims of crime and this too, should be acknowledged. Resources devoted to their needs and welfare will benefit not only the children themselves, but also the communities in which they live.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Conference Paper
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Criminology
Research Field:Police administration, procedures and practice
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Justice and the law
Objective Field:Law enforcement
UTAS Author:Toohey, J-A (Ms Julie-Anne Toohey)
ID Code:84710
Year Published:2013
Deposited By:School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2013-05-28
Last Modified:2014-08-19
Downloads:313 View Download Statistics

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