Lessons from the Lockdown: Prisoner and Family Connections for the Future




The Centre for Criminology, in collaboration with the Welsh Centre for Crime and Social Justice (WCCSJ), ran an online seminar on 17th September 2020 entitled ‘Lessons from the Lockdown: Prisoner and Family Connections for the Future’.  


The seminar was chaired by Professor Mike Maguire and attended by over 50 academics, policy-makers and practitioners, including prison governors and senior civil servants. 


Speakers included front-line staff from male and female prisons and a secure children’s home, together with family development experts Professor Julie Poehlmann-Tynan and Elizabeth Skora Horgan from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Corin Morgan-Armstrong, Head of Family Services in HMP Parc; and David Richmond, Head of Youth Custody Services, Wales.


The aims of the seminar were to explore how the lockdown has affected contact between prisoners and their children and families, what has been done to cope with the situation, what has worked well and not so well, and what lessons might be drawn for the future.  


Speakers considered whether some of the measures introduced might have a lasting effect on practice: in particular, whether online ‘in home video chat’  for prisoners and their children could be developed further as an enhancement – or even in some cases an alternative – to prison visits.  


The seminar adapted WCCSJ’s ‘trialogue’ format, based around brief contributions from speakers from academia, policy and practice, followed by open discussion to exchange knowledge and compare their different perspectives. 


The event was felt to be very successful, and Professors Kate Williams and Katy Holloway plan to hold similar seminars on issues around youth justice and substance misuse in the near future.


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