News & Views

30th Oct, 2017

How the media can affect the families of prisoners.

Over the last few weeks there have been a number of articles published in the media highlighting serious concerns in the prison service.

Over the last few weeks there have been a number of articles published in the media highlighting serious concerns in the prison service. The articles cover subjects such as prison violence, drug abuse, self-harm, suicide and lack of staff. As one headline in put it: 'England's prisons are war zones. Unless austerity ends, things will get worse' (The Guardian: 27/10/17)

One concern that has not been reported is what affect these stories may have on the families - particularly the children - of prisoners. For family members who have never experienced prison life, the perception of what happens behind bars comes from two main sources, the prisoner and the media. While prisoners will often try to protect their families by underplaying the conditions in prison, news articles are rarely so considerate. For a child to read that their parent is being held in 'squalid conditions' that are 'not suitable for humans' (The Sun: 18/10/17) can only be extremely distressful. It is often the role of Family Support Workers to allay these concerns. By engaging with families before and after visits or on the telephone, workers can provide a balanced and objective description of what conditions are truly like at local level and so help to give an accurate picture of prison life.

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