26 Sep 2012

Prisons becoming more family-friendly - advocate

10:09 pm on 26 September 2012

A group advocating on behalf of prisoners' families says the Department of Corrections is finally taking on its recommendations, after a 20-year battle.

The group, Pillars, commissioned a two-year study, in 2010 and 2011, to look at the needs of prisoners' children.

The recommendations in the report include things such as free phone calls between inmates and families, and making visits for children as pleasant as possible.

Pillars' chief executive Verna McFelin says until the study it was a battle to get Corrections to recognise making prisons more family friendly is a key part for inmates' rehabilitation.

She says 23,000 children have a parent in jail, and research shows they are seven times more likely to end up in prison themselves.

She says many families think keeping young people away from prisons will prevent them taking after their parents.

But she says the study shows that's not the case.

Ms McFelin says a more likely cause of inter-generational crime is the economic and social circumstance of families.

The Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Trust says the mentality of locking criminals up and throwing away the key is being phased out, and prisons are becoming a more family friendly environment.

Spokesperson Jane Hossacksays since the study Corrections has made more of an effort to create family friendly environments for visits.

Ms Hossack says making it easy for young people to visit their parents in jail is integral to successful rehabilitation.